The Victorian Desalination Project and Ecological Reserve

The Victorian Desalination Project and Ecological Reserve is critical infrastructure for climate adaption and one of the largest such investments in Australia’s history. The 225 ha Ecological Reserve camouflages the Plant through a 26000m2 green roof and a dune system evolved from spoil, transforms degraded land into mosaics of coastal and swampy woodlands, wetlands and dune ecologies, reconnects remnants and provides rich visitor experience.


Landscape architects led the site plan to ensure an ecologically resilient landscape. Their 3D site master-model allowed cross disciplinary testing to create outcomes not otherwise possible in a project of this complexity. Such leadership proves new roles for the profession.


Local seed collection and onsite propagation established millions of plants. The green roof’s 25 species required significant research to establish a local palette suitable for predicted future conditions. It has purpose-designed lightweight high water retention planting media and integrated growth support systems. The Reserve uses only on-site water capture. Traditional Owner cultural values informed design.


Amenity includes 8km of pedestrian, cyclist and equestrian trails, wayfinding, interpretation, boardwalks, bird hide, viewing decks and picnic shelters.
The project has returned local fauna, including endangered species and internationally significant migratory birds. It has advanced green roof design. A mandated 18 year review ensures ecological values are maintained into the future.

Thiess Degrémont / Parsons Brinckerhoff / Beca Joint Venture
EOI, Stage 2 Bid Submission, Design, and Construction Documentation
Wonthaggi, Victoria, Australia
ASPECT Studios, Practical Ecology with peckvonhartel, ARM architects and Fytogreen


2017 10th IFLA Asia-Pac Landscape Architecture Awards; Infrastructure Category – Award of Excellence

2017 The Chicago Athenaeum & The European Centre Green GOOD DESIGN Award Winner

2016 AILA National Landscape Architecture Awards – Infrastructure

2016 AILA VIC Awards – Infrastructure Award of Excellence

2014 Victorian Architecture Awards – Sir Osborn Mccutcheon Award for Commercial Architecture

2013 IFLA APR Awards for Landscape Architecture – Award of Excellence – Landscape Planning

2012 Green Roofs Australasia Design Award

2012 AILA VIC Awards – Research & Communication