Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Gardening Mt Vic

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Version 2 2023-09-26, 01:36
Version 1 2021-12-08, 13:22
posted on 2023-09-26, 01:36 authored by Pearce, William

Since Olmstead envisioned Central Park, New York, the study of gardening has slowly become the Staple of landscape historians. Gardening practices can engage the body with aesthetic experience through plants and materiality; landscape architects inform this process through expressive design intention and representations informed by conventions. When a creative drawing convention lacks sensitivity to how one reads the landscape, the intentions behind the expressions created by landscape architects become obscure or unclear.  John Ward, a New Zealand Company secretary, stated that Wellington’s town belt was for “the beautiful appearance of the city to be secured.” (Cook, 1992) Over time, urban infrastructural developments have altered the boundaries of town belt parks; This was the case for Mount Victoria Park due to the 1930s development of Alexandra Road.  Landscape architects recognise the significance of walking along the ridge of Mount Victoria because of its meaningful history; however, the large scale of the Mount Victoria Park means common planning practices cannot meaningfully engage with important opportunities for how its spatial compositions can dynamically affect the human experience. This is because landscape-planning tendencies typically utilise large-scale mapping to create utilitarian maintenance regimes that regiment spaces, rather than utilising landscape architectural principles in the forming of them.  This design research investigation asks: how can landscape architecture establish a meaningful, human-scale experience of the garden at the scale of the large park?  This study operates through design-led landscape architectural research. Site study of the Wellington Town Belt revealed that despite the scale of this site its variety of trails and open spaces for experiencing the site as a composed garden. This thesis argues that visual factors that enable composition focussed drawings to be meaningful can also be applied to the design of large-scale garden parks.  Reflection on fieldwork was developed in design through crafted explorations of technique and convention resulting in a composition focussed drawing system. These designs were developed through a sensitivity to scale and drawing convention. The creative use of representation and site interpretation challenged utilitarian conceptions about the design of large-scale town belts to also include human-scale iterative visual interpretation. The results of these design experiments unified spaces and formed intense moments of beauty and meaning, during both movement and points of pause, resulting in a garden-like experience that expressed the particular beauty and unique attributes of Matairangi, Mt Victoria.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License


Degree Discipline

Landscape Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Baxley, Brennan; McLeod, Warwick