All posts by thien

Lionel Watts playspace

Construction of the All Inclusive  Lionel Watts playspace at Belrose has been completed in late 2019 and the play space has been successfully opened and well received by the local community. We have been delighted to work on this project in collaboration with Fiona Robbe Landscape Architects and public art by Jane Cavanough of Artlandish.

The project has been designed with careful attention to detail to ensure that the site remains all abilities and attractive to all users. The project was also  enhanced by consultation with the ‘House with No Step’s and Mimosa Public School located close to the site.

Minnamurra Rainforest Centre

Construction of the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre in Minnamurra National Park is now completed. This is the first stage of a master plan for the precinct prepared by Phillips Marler for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. The new design is a dramatic transformation of the existing building, incorporating a café, commercial kitchen, kiosk, new outdoor spaces and a potential future venue for functions and special events.

The exterior of the building is clad in bushfire resistant Spotted Gum and the interior of the Café incorporates a dramatic new ceiling design featuring a laser-cut pattern based on the image of the Livistona australis palm lit by customised, minimal power LED light fittings.

Blundells Cottage – Landscape Documentation of Canberra’s oldest building

Blundells Cottage built 6

Four years since we commenced the Masterplan for this project, construction of the landscape setting for the Blundells Cottage Precinct is complete.

Blundells Cottage built - opening 2

Built by RAM Constructions, a ministerial launch was a great way to acknowledge the new landscape works by Phillips Marler including courtyard spaces and pathworks, ornamental and productive gardens,  a new small amenities building and exterior lighting by Lighting Art & Science (LAAS).

Blundells Cottage built 4

Blundells Cottage built 16

These works were carried out at the same time as meticulous conservation works of the Slab Shed by Pip Giovanelli Heritage Architect and Myles Gostelow, conservator as well as revitalised interiors and lighting to Blundells Cottage.


Blundells Cottage built 10

Waitara Park Amenities Building



Construction of the new Waitara Amenities Building for Hornsby Council at Waitara Tennis Courts has recently been completed. Construction by Council of a new playground adjacent the building is now underway.

The new 280m2 building provides meeting and administrative space, storage, toilets, showers and a new kiosk. The building foregoes conventional air conditioning and utilises passive solar design strategies to assist heating and cooling including sensor-controlled ventilation, orientation of openings and thermal mass. It incorporates a 6.5Kw photovoltaic array and 10,000 litres of underground rainwater storage.




Petersham Park – Historic Park upgrade

Petersham 1 lighter

Our association with project at Petersham Park continues with Stage 2 works now complete. The project is primarily landscape conservation works: repairing stone walls,  and adding new planting into existing plantings beds.

The park has many stone planting beds which we have designed planting for as well as restoring the historic park gateway structures.

One has been reconstructed – the others, repainted in the original colours with new signage. The project includes restoring stonework and repairing pathways.

Petersham 3 Petersham 4

A Spring opening for Parramatta Park – The Gardens Precinct



After nearly two years of painstaking design and documentation by Phillips Marler, archaeological investigations by GML and construction by Ford Civil Contracting Pty Ltd., The Gardens Precinct Stage 1 is almost complete.

Excavation works to restore the historic pond in Murray Gardens have created a new water body and the transformation of the George Street entry and promenade is underway with seating and circulation areas almost complete with beautiful sandstone supplied by Gosford Quarries.


Plantings of Algerian Oaks along the promenade, grown on for the project in Echuca, will emulate the original plantings of English Oaks planted in the Macquarie period. The Murray Gardens are being revitalised with large areas of planting both ornamental and native for a sensory garden at this important gateway to Parramatta CBD. The project will be opening in early spring.

Joshua French, Principal Program Officer, Recreation and Infrastructure, Parramatta Park and Western Sydney Parklands Trust said of the project:

‘We are delighted with the works currently under construction within The Gardens Precinct in Parramatta Park. Phillips Marler have delicately worked with the historical layers of this precinct developing a design that is transforming this key entry of the park.’

This project is moving into two further stages with a concept design package now complete for a riverside boardwalk, new playspace and the restoration of the Macquarie dam all part of the ongoing works for this important revitalisation project in the World Heritage area of Parramatta Park.


Parramatta Stage 2-Boardwalk and Lookout Visualisation





Audley Dance Hall and Ironbark Flat Restoration wins Cultural Heritage Award of Excellence

The Audley Dance Hall and Ironbark Flat Restoration was awarded the Cultural Heritage Award of Excellence at the 2016 NSW AILA Awards.  It was a fabulous recognition of this project for our team.


Audley Award hand over


Why was this project so important?

The Audley Dance Hall and Ironbark Flats are at the heart of the Audley Village within Australia’s oldest national park. Our challenge was to carefully restore and ‘reveal’ these culturally significant buildings in their original setting on the bank of the Hacking River.

First established in the late 19th Century as a ‘resort’ or ‘pleasure ground’, Audley Village evolved over the next decades to meet the recreation and cultural needs of a growing Sydney community.

Over time, many of the panoramic vistas into, within and out of Audley were obscured. Our design restored these views so that visitors to the park can appreciate its aesthetic value and experience of Audley as coherent parkland.

Our approach pared back newer landscape installations and restored glimpses of the river beyond reinstated picnic lawns. The Dance Hall is once again used as an event space, café and visitor centre, and is at the heart of this setting. It evokes both a strong sense of history and a sense of place.

“We combined our skills in both architecture and landscape architecture on this project to deliver a revitalised landscape and building as a hub for tourism”, said David Phillips.

“With so many economic and environmental benefits, this project has proven that heritage landscapes and buildings can be sustainable in the long term.”

Image 3 - Ironbark from main entry

Image 11 Ironbark across the river

Julie Marler awarded AILA Fellowship

At the recent AILA awards night Julie Marler, Landscape Co-Principal of Phillips Marler, was awarded an AILA Fellowship. The award recognised her twenty plus years of practice and active advocacy for the profession.

“I was thrilled to receive the AILA Fellowship at the recent NSW Awards night.  The recognition of peers is a celebration of practice and professional engagement and a source of inspiration”.

The award acknowledged ‘Julie’s achievements in practice – award winning projects, her active role in the Institute and her contribution to the profession of Landscape Architecture’

“Landscape Architecture is a mixture of art and science”, explained Julie. “Technically, we’re growing as a profession. It’s an expansive discipline and there are few disciplines that are so environment focused. Fundamentally, it’s about the environment and nature. No other profession has this investment in such an important area for the future.”

Julie Marler and LA colleagues accept their Fellowship award at the AILA Awards night


Parramatta Park – The Gardens Precinct: Rich in Landscape Heritage

The Gardens Precinct is at the heart of the World Heritage precinct of Parramatta Park. It is of exceptional historical, aesthetic, research and interpretive value.

Like The Crescent to the west of Old Government House, The Gardens Precinct is a significant site for convict settlement.

Parramatta Park is a place of exceptional national significance. Its importance lies in its rich and wide ranging attributes and values, including:

  • the park’s rich history of occupation by the Burramatta clan of the Darug people and ongoing connection for the Aboriginal community;
  • the history of the site as the seat of Colonial Government and a place of agriculture and convict settlement;
  • the important role the park has played in Australian history, and
  • as a significant open space for the City of Parramatta.

The park is also part of the World Heritage serial listing of Australian Convict sites. This carries a responsibility for the Trust to manage the landscape values of the site, and balance these against the visual impact of the urban environment

Our task

Phillips Marler are currently involved in a major design and documentation for the Parramatta Park Gardens Precinct for Parramatta Park Trust.

Our selection for this $7 million project recognised our capability in both landscape architecture and landscape heritage.

The project is within the World Heritage Area of Parramatta Park. It focuses on three main areas:

  • Murray Gardens and Creek
  • George Street Gatehouse promenade and
  • The northern area of the Gardens as it intersects with the Parramatta River and the rapidly changing CBD of Parramatta.

Interpreting and understanding the historic layers of the site made this a complex project for our landscape heritage team with the competing interests of conservation and new design to create more vibrant spaces.

Elements of former colonial structures and roads were revealed by an archaeological dig. The first stage is nearing construction.

 This project meant engaging with a world heritage landscape with high evidence of archaeology and built heritage. It is a privilege to work in such a significant place, but painstaking at the same time. 

 We relish the detail and the process of working through the issues with Parramatta Park Trust to ensure the design is always complimentary to the significance of the place and provides a rich experience for the public.

 Julie Marler, Phillips Marler


Parramatta Park blog Image - Montage


Smith Hansen House: A complex design on a difficult site

This renovation is a response to a challenging site.  The clients, Leon and Janet asked for space, light and views.

The challenges

  • Site – The house is south-facing, positioned on a steep slope which largely consists of rock outcrops and fill. There was little or no level, stable land to build on.
  • Budget – To keep within the client’s budget, the design needed to keep much of the existing house and the new addition needed to be light-weight construction.


Our solution

Although south-facing, we saw an opportunity to design a cantilevered space over the bushland slope below. The newly created rooms and decks to the south-east now capture the winter sun.  For the first time, the owners enjoy views over Sailor’s Bay.

The new pavilion is completely steel-framed. This minimised the need for footings and supported the large cantilevers. The exterior walls are all metal-clad.

To the south of the house, years of effort by the owners to regenerate a weed-infested slope has paid off. The steep site is now covered with giant ferns, Christmas bush and native grasses.

“We love the house for the elegance of its design – the clean lines, open spaces, and maximised views from every room.

The apparent simplicity of the completed project hides the considerable effort that went into the planning and construction on this difficult site. Structural steel is concealed inside walls, windows frame views, and living areas flow onto decks.

David was great to work with – we were consulted at every stage, and were able to discuss details at any time.

Perhaps the final word should go to a friend who has lived in many houses, in various areas of the world: of the main living area, he said “I think it’s just about the nicest room I’ve ever been in….”

Leon and Janet, Owners


Smith Hansen House blog image - view



Photography by Eric Sierins