WILDLAB is an internationally recognised landscape design and research group. We create nature-based experiences, masterplans, strategies, communication tools, and learning programs that grows a place where nature and people thrive.
1. Our roots
Our roots date back to a 2012 project working with Air New Zealand on innovative ways to reduce waste and weight on their long haul network. This work shows significant cost savings can be achieved through improving environmental outcomes, rather than achieving one at the expense of the other.
2. Seeding our ideas
In 2015, a community is brought together to grow a vision for Ararira Wetland at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere into reality, and symbolises their connection with the environment. Seeing the project grow as more people join in the planting, shows that an increased human presence can be a positive force in protecting and restoring nature.
3. Growing our ideas
On the wild West Coast at Punakaiki in Paparoa National Park, a coastal restoration project seeks to grow the national park from harnessing the positive impact of visitors. This came from the idea that conservation and volunteering can be a form of eco-tourism, in which people actively participate in the restoration of the places they travel to. Today this has evolved into the Wild Heart Project; bringing passionate people together to contribute to conservation projects across Aotearoa.
4. Taking shape
New Zealand’s landscapes – from backyard, to farms, to protected areas – have unrealised potential to unlock nature to create a better world. As a creative and experimental practice, we use design as a tool to explore the possibilities for letting nature shape us, expanding both its productive capacities and our capacity to better protect it.
How we work
Wild Lab is internationally recognised for its approach to landscape which combines design, teaching, and research. We apply project-specific tools to deliver landscape strategies, master-plans, experiences, communication tools, and research.
Complex questions fuel us. Drawing on insight in the field of design thinking, we challenge the ‘rush to get a quick answer’. Instead we recognise the value in not over-simplifying the problem. We use questioning to expand our imaginative scope, allowing the underlying challenges to emerge and strategic options to be developed, rather than simply fixing surface issues.
Reflective listening guides us to take a curious and non-judgmental positions that explores and seeks shared understandings. Collective development is the bedrock of our process. From this, the deeper problems and opportunities can be identified with which to direct the design process.
Every person we speak to knows something we don’t. No individual, group or skill set can alone hold the full scope of understanding from which deep innovation comes. Our projects actively engage with other disciplines, as well as wider community groups and stakeholders. This helps ensure a rigorous process that in turns produces robust insights and ideas.
Designing is a process that first opens out possibilities and then resolves them into compelling outcomes. Our core skills in the design allow us to structure the process so partners and stakeholders can also participate in key development phases. This includes tools to facilitate cross-pollination of ideas and forms, that allows us to combine elements in innovative ways.
One of the most powerful ways creative research adds value is its capacity to engage and communicate. Images not only represent, they enable. Take for instance the statement ‘unexplored at present’ written across the blank areas of George Moirs 1925 tramping map of Fiordland . Not only did this describe what Moir thought was its current condition, but it also forced multiple actions as other sought to go to those places. We work to create the graphic tools that don’t only show what’s possible, but also can powerfully activate positive change.
Working as a team of designers, researchers and collaborators