受访人：澳派（澳大利亚）景观规划设计工作室创始人和董事 Chris Razzell
ELA: In your opinion, what is a good landscape work?
Chris Razzell:From my perspective, good landscape work firstly must be responsible to the environment, and must be underpinned by sense of place and sustainability. All good landscape and urban design work have responsibility to create places that have meaning to people who again lived there. I also think economically, they must have some impacts, must be responsible to the client’s budget, and must be responded in a positive way.
In respective with the client, design construction budget is high or low. Places that we design are places where people want to go. People must be comfortable in those places. They must be places that attractive in a broad sense to people of all ages in many respects.
A good landscape work in summary must be responsive. It must contribute positively to the environment and to the social wellbeing in a fabric community.
ELA: ASPECT Studios strives for sustainable design and gives the attention to users’ experience, the whole society, economic and ecological benefit. Can you talk about it in detail with one or several projects?
Chris Razzell: I think probably two are well-known projects. Certainly, one is Darling Quarter in Australia. The other one is Jack Evans Boat Harbor on the border between Eastern New South Wales and Queensland.
Darling Quarter is really about place-making. It quietly ties unique approach conceived by both of us and client together to actually invest our client’s money on the government land for the benefit of the project. Of course, once those parties have agreed to that. We set about some processes we abide by and we try to create a space which is good for the entire development. So something is attractive for that site. Something is unique to the city. And something provides positive uplift in experience and also values. And that is valued for the developer, the tenant, and the wide residents of the city. That project took a very unique approach. All of our work in that project is design underpinned and developing collaboration very closely with land list. Therefore, we took this idea of curation like you work in a museum. How can you curate a landscape? It is attractive to many people.
We are currently working on a similar project in South China which is actually two and half times the size of Darling Quarter. This project will bring the same values we have in Sydney into our work in China. In our part of work, it is really about social value, the environmental value that associated with that project. And how can we make a difference? How can we do it by working closely with the client? We share the same ambition to do it.
Jack Evans Boat Harbor is a project for many years which had suffered through lack of investment from the city. Inappropriate infrastructure over the former twenty years has simply become very degraded. So we partnered with local city government on that project to our client, their landscape design department and lead consultant. Our role is reinterpreting the site history but utilizing the project as catalyst for economic revitalization. It creates a foreshore environment and becomes a destination that people want to go to and enjoy being in. It provides facilities that responsive to people’s needs, and at the same time, addressing coastal development. It also has all range of issues to deal with. For example, treatment to stormwater into the harbor, improve the quality of that, so we can assure water quality to the people swimming. We symbolize the team of consultants to deal with all of the technical issues, economic issues, traffic issues and infrastructure issues like drainage.
Both Darling Quarter and Jack Evans Boat Harbor can not be completed by one consultant line. So we are the lead consultant. We share a vision with our client. And we’ve charged the same team to deliver the project, to make the vision we established earlier to our client.
ELA: Creativity is another highlight of ASPECT Studios. We wonder how do you integrate the creativity and technology into design?
Chris Razzell: This is a very interesting question. Most of our clients are actually engaged because of what we think. Why we think and how we think about the project. Our client will come to us with project and have a lot of problems. It’s very challenging. How can we change something from a problem into an opportunity? How can you take difficult and technically demanding situations and turn them into an advantage? Partly because we have the right people in a team and that’s about how people think laterally. The most recognizing, the most obvious solution may not be the best one. It’s about taking a lot of ideas, testing those ideas against the criteria we established and working on to achieve. During that process, the serious solution is test those in a scientific sense and in a physical 3 dimension sense, producing models, everything looking at them from a special experience.
Most of our work is engaged with the history of the site and we try to tell a story about where that site and its people are willing to go, also engaged with technology. Most of the technologies we engaged are called passive. In another way, looking for passive low cost solution, particularly on the environment front, almost superseding more active types of technology, working with similar like-minded people, and engineers who test the boundaries. Everything we do with our project team is about pushing the limits of normal expectation, stretching engineering, tying responsive into something creative. How can we create a very light weight structure that we need and the people who are working with us to go beyond just the normal response.
ELA: ASPECT Studios is active in CSR field, including teaching and giving speech in various universities and colleges, providing free landscape service for charity institutions and communities, donating conversion fees of studio travel carbon emission to environmental charity group, etc. Can you please talk about it in detail?
Chris Razzell: It’s a question for every company about social responsibility. It doesn’t matter whether you are big or whether you are small. Fundamentally, I think all of us as individuals and people who control the direction of company have responsibility to do as much as we can for the environment or those people who are disadvantaged or people who don’t have the same opportunities that we mind. ASPECT Studios has a company policy to be very active in this area. All of our directors and senior staff lecture for free at universities in Australia and China. That commitment is providing educational resource to younger students. We also do a lot of charity work. At the moment, our directors from Sydney are conducting a wide range of charity. That’s donations from our staff for that cause. That is charity for underprivileged children in Australia. We are small company, and we would probably donate around 4000 dollars.
We have responsibility to our environment. We are all consumers. We consume coffee, electricity, etc. ASPECT Studios has offset all of its carbon emissions. That’s not just those carbon emissions generated in Australia, we also calculate our carbon footprint in China. The taxi ride we take, the trains, the planes, and the power. And we provide that to Australian government. Also the work in terms of the planting of trees they need to do to offset all of our carbon emissions produced in Australia and China. We do that as our part of work for five years now. It’s not about the money. It’s about the idea. It’s about as a company, if we create hopefully great work, we still want a great environment to live in, and we want clean air and clean water.
We’ve done pro bono work for a number of organizations. One of those is a village construction in Africa. We have done pro bono work for aboriginal communities in Australia and disadvantaged communities in Africa. Sometimes, these people just can’t get the access to the top of skills, they can’t afford these to the type of professionals, and I need to improvement to their lives in a city or a town. We look for these groups and actually give help. Some staff of us even go there and plant trees. So it’s quite hands-on. At the same time, you could help something professionally. There’s a problem here like water management, wind breaking. This is a very simple plan; we will go and work with them. Sometimes, we even help implement it. We want to make a difference as much as we can in many different areas.
For us, as a company, we are investor in China. We really can’t look the right pro bono work that we can do. We can find disadvantaged villages. Some charity organization with the landscape design could have positive influence. Pro bono for us is in Australia, we hope the future will become growing contribution we can make back to the company right in. The organization can benefit by our helping. It’s an obligation of all successful companies to provide something back.
ELA: Innovation of ASPECT Studios embodies not only in design, but also in the up-to-date research and technology. Can you please talk about it in detail?
Chris Razzell: The way we structure part of our operations is what we called Folio groups. Folio group is for us nearly expertise. We try to as part of our career planning for our staff. Fosters specific areas with their interesting but also make the company adjective. For example, those people who are very interesting in green infrastructure like green roofs, environmental systems, and passive technologies group together share information, knowledge, training programs, and that information they gather, is retained on our service in a library. And they disseminate that information out to other staff. They help up skill other staff in key areas of knowledge.
The Folio group is for us part of pretty much everything we do, from landscape design, art, urban planning, green infrastructure, marketing, business development. So it covers whole range of our business scope and also collaboration with like-minded people. It’s really a form we have tried to promote great knowledge to individuals, to interest in key areas and disseminate that out to the rest of the studios. Everybody of our studios is involved to some degree in the Folio structure. We know exactly what their interests are and that helps us tailor their skill development. What expert or program they are going to? What university can provide a course they might attend to learn more?
Everyone can’t be expert on everything. But you have people in your organization who expert one or two things, and if I need an answer, I know who to go to. For example, if I need an answer on thermal value performance of the green roof, I know where the person is whether on Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney or Shanghai, I can contact them and have the answer I need within 24 hours. It’s about having a broad range of skills and then fostering the idea of continuing professional development education in all of our staff from directors to junior staff.
ELA: Today’s city is full of high density public space lacking green element. How to create a space in such city that gives people the feeling of happiness?
Chris Razzell: There are a couple of questions. One of them is public space in cities is lacking. I know some cities like Shanghai are addressing that. More is happening. That’s fantastic to see. But I think part of what people are looking at today is taking the idea of green space or a regional or sub-regional or District Park and looking for other opportunities. Shanghai has got very good regional parks. Sub-district parks are lacking. And there are a lot neighborhood parks, but not enough.
When goals are being plugged, everybody from landscape architects to developers and to governments is looking at other opportunities. How can you bring green to development? What can you do with the rooftops? Rooftops have a lot benefits in terms of opportunities for recreation, education, reducing the surfing of the urban heat island effects, improving quality of stormwater runoff, and whole range of opportunities. And when you are being in a rooftop, you could think of how you can bring more green to our environment. Because there are many studies quantify that the greener we have around us, the better we feel, the better we work. That’s the problem we have.
You could start to look at vertical greening. How can developers and landscape architects work with architects, engineers to bring enough part of the greening into our buildings? We start to blend the idea of what is architecture and what is landscape. And what we are seeing more and more certainly in Australia at the moment is the idea of what we call the living building challenge where the building itself is no longer what we really call just the building. The building and the landscape are merged together and become one entity. I think you already start to see interest here in China with some quite amazing development starting to take on this idea within them all.
If you look at our project One Central Park in Sydney, this is a revolution of blending landscape into architecture together where the two is working together and functioning together, provide positive benefit to the residents, the environment, and also to the developer. Developers need more money. People will happily pay more to live there because it feels better. It’s nothing like waking up in the morning on level 30 looking at landscape in your window, just like nature. Fundamentally, we’re all attractive to the urban environment because of opportunities, particularly employment, education. In China there is a huge move to the urban environment. These sources of opportunities now for developers are really proactive and they are looking for ways how we can chase this in China.
We would bring a lot more satisfaction for people and a lot more happiness to their everyday life. This is the challenge we are looking forward to taking on. It is still very early. The future to architects and landscape architects and designers is going to be full of amazing projects. The urban environment is very dense, there is not enough green space, but there are ways for compensating that. And those ways can be realized by creating buildings and landscape systems that work together. That will satisfy people more generally in a sense of the feeling of wellbeing, the social abilities. If you could live, work and play in a green environment, the cost saving to the community and the government is enormous. A course of whole range of areas from education, health, all of these problems we see in our society today can be partly relieved by better development that combines landscape with architecture in a very integrated way not a surface or skin.
We talked about happiness. Everybody feels better by living in green where there are birds and trees, where they can see grasshopper in the city. These are environment professional landscape architects and architects are trying to source and to make a difference to the future, to the children, for mothers or fathers or grandmothers or grandfathers that we feel better.
[Profile of Chris Razzell]
Registered Landscape Architect, AILA
Bachelor of Landscape Architecture RMIT (1987)
Former Academic Advisory Council, RMIT
China Sustainable Design Forum Guest Speaker
Member China Green Building Council
AILA VIC Member
Chris established ASPECT Studios in 1993 and is the founder and corporate Director of ASPECT Studios. He has maintained the overall direction and growth of the studios since its formation in 1993, guiding the successful development of the studios from Melbourne into Sydney and then Shanghai as well as its core R&D digital arm, pioneering advanced virtually reality design services.
Chris is driven by a commitment to deliver the highest quality design outcomes across the breadth of landscape architecture and urban design. His expertise lies in large scale urban and commercial development and delivering innovative and sustainable solutions to these. Chris’ inventive, disciplined skills and integrated involvement are brought to bear on anything from team management, the design business, financial, logistical or strategic issues, to fostering the potential of all ASPECT Studios’ staff.
Chris’s business philosophy is founded on the principle of studio individuality supported by a national and international network of expertise and collaborators. The long term development of the studio has evolved on a platform of shared knowledge, inter-studio project delivery and a commitment to fostering continued education among ASPECT’s professional staff. Chris’s focus over the last 17 years has been to deliver award winning projects which the practice has continued to deliver.
In 2005 Chris commenced building the practices portfolio overseas and in 2006 he established ASPECT’s studio in China and now spends three quarters of his time in China based in the Shanghai Studio. From Shanghai he is primarily involved in guiding and delivering large scale city planning and contemporary commercial and residential projects that have a strong sustainable basis.