Best of est 2023 | Australian Landscape Architects and Designers

  • WORDS Holly Beadle
  • In 2023, Australian residential projects underscored the growing significance of landscaped spaces. We devoted an entire issue – Force of Nature – to how buildings and nature co-exist, enhancing our relationship with the natural environment. We also launched a new Q&A series where we conversed with Australia’s leading landscape architects and designers, delving into the myriad ways they design to live in harmony with nature. These initiatives culminate in this instalment of our annual Best of est series, where we celebrate five leading Australian landscape architects and designers for 2023.


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    Myles Baldwin Design

    Landscape architecture practice Myles Baldwin Design have projects spanning all across Australia and overseas, with offices in both Melbourne and Sydney. This year, we’re honouring the firm for their collaboration with Susi Leeton Architects + Interiors on our Issue 49 cover home, ‘River House’, in Melbourne’s Hawthorn on the Yarra River bend. The home’s architecture and interiors are presented against the lush backdrop of Myles Baldwin’s garden, with glazed walkways, wrap-around balconies, skylights and a kitchen conservatory maximising all aspects of the surrounding greenery. “We wanted the garden and views out to the river to take precedence over the architecture,” Susi says, illustrating Myles and his team’s instrumental role in the project.

    “Our country is so diverse in its horticulture and climate; when you work across a range of locations, understanding those differences is key.”


    – Myles Baldwin

    Amanda Oliver Gardens

    Based in Fitzroy, Melbourne, Amanda Oliver Gardens design gardens that complement their surroundings and are grounded in a sense of place. This year, we interviewed the firm’s director, Amanda Oliver, for a special feature in Issue 49 called ‘Finding Connection’, where we explored the architect-landscape designer relationship. In the feature, we spoke to Amanda about how she collaborates with Melbourne-based architecture practice Kennedy Nolan. Emphasising her spot in this year’s Best of est lineup, architect Patrick Kennedy, co-director of Kennedy Nolan, asserts, “Amanda has an ability to ‘see’ how a garden will mature. She is committed and strong and sure, but probably our favourite thing is that she is endlessly curious about plants and sees beauty in the smallest native orchid, understanding the interconnectedness of all parts of the living world.”

    Flinders House by Kennedy Nolan | Photography by Derek Swalwell

    “In the city, it’s about making the most of the borrowed landscape, framing or opening up views, screening or softening the ugly, and creating a sense of enclosure. In the country, it’s about ensuring the garden sits well within the surrounding landscape and has a sense of place.”


    – Amanda Oliver

    Somers House by Kennedy Nolan | Photography by Derek Swalwell

    Somers House by Kennedy Nolan | Photography by Derek Swalwell

    Florian Wild

    Melbourne-based practice Florian Wild describe their approach as drawing inspiration from experience and memory while speaking to a project’s locality. This year, as part of our Australian landscape architects and designers Q&A series, we spoke with the firm’s director, Rupert Baynes-Williams, about the importance of context and climate in residential landscape design. In the interview, Rupert emphasised the role of both in shaping spaces of substance and meaning, maintaining that they form an integral part of the ‘narrative’ of a site. The feature highlights his collaborations with leading architecture and design firms, his experience across a range of locations and project types, and ultimately, how he creates site-specific gardens that deeply resonate with their inhabitants.

    Gardens have a remarkable ability to evoke deep emotions and nostalgia. When engaging with people about gardens, it’s amazing how often their earliest memories are intertwined with landscapes and gardens.


    – Florian Wild Director Rupert Baynes-Williams

    Mud Office

    Each project Melbourne-based practice Mud Office design is underpinned by a commitment to understanding the aspirations of the people who will enjoy it. The firm collaborated with architects FIGR on a home in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, ‘Ha Ha Haus’, which is designed around a central courtyard. Off the back of this home feature and film and as part of our Australian landscape architects and designers Q&A series, we spoke with the firm’s director, Mira Martinazzo, about courtyard spaces and how to maximise them. Mira’s insights into how courtyards can enhance the liveability of a home and anchor inhabitants within their natural context, coupled with her completed projects in 2023, earned Mud Office a place in this landscape design lineup. 

    “We all instinctively feel better when we are connected to nature. Greenery, natural light and a view of the sky can profoundly influence our day-to-day lives, both directly and indirectly.”


    – Mira Martinazzo, Mud Office

    Eckersley Garden Architecture

    Melbourne-based practice Eckersley Garden Architecture create relaxed and tactile gardens that will evolve for years to come. This year, as part of our Australian landscape architects and designers Q&A series, we spoke with the firm’s co-directors, Myles Broad and Scottie Leung, about their approach to ‘greening’ architecture, which sees a building as an intrinsic part of its natural environment. Having collaborated with several of Australia’s leading architecture firms, Myles and Scottie possess in-depth knowledge about the advantages and challenges of greening architecture. In the interview, they addressed the issue of greenwashing, how to incorporate greenery into the structural fabric of a building, and the threat urban development poses to sustainable landscape design.

    “We look at our gardens as a counterpoint to heavy architecture. And more architects now are recognising the importance of having a garden. In the past, we’d often see these monolithic elements within a landscape with no real sense of belonging.”


    – Scottie Leung, Eckersley Garden Architecture

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