Andrew Prowse Landscape Architect Awarded For the Stunning Cairns Performing Arts Precinct

Images: Andrew Prowse MAIH RH0053

The Cairns Performing Arts Precinct by CA Architects, Cox Architecture and Andrew Prowse Landscape Architect with Cairns Regional Council has won Queensland’s top prize for urban design, the Minister’s Award for Urban Design.

The Precinct was once a place viewed as dangerous and unattractive, sited next to a major highway at the edge of the Central Business District of Cairns. Residents and visitors alike tended to avoid it and the few plantings mainly consisted of mature figs and little else. Now transformed into an incredible, vibrant precinct, it is rich in indigenous planting specimens, with showy foliage and flowers, lush tropical greens and carefully-planned architectural features. The result is absolutely stunning, an amazing transformation making the precinct a top Cairns destination.


Mucuna novo-guineensis – the New Guinea Creeper

“Our goal was primarily to maximise the difference between Cairns Performing Arts Precinct and the popular Cairns Botanic Gardens”, explains Andrew Prowse MAIH RH0053.

“We set out to create a unique and distinctive area that made the best use of tropical plant selections. With their fast growth rate and size, we built a structural pergola to direct their growth into pleasing arches that bring shade and overhead form. This pergola creates a vast outdoor gallery room with cameos of significant people associated with the park over the years and a selection of flamboyant foliage plantings giving the park a distinct local and tropical experience”, said Andrew.


Shower of Orchids Vine – Congea velutina


Jade Vine – Strongylodon macrobotrys, the milky green vine from the Philippines. These vines are only found in the tropics and rapidly form gigantic vines that grow up forest trees and along the rainforest canopy. Often seen at the edges of clearings.


The jury said the precinct offers a valuable, high-quality contribution to the urban fabric of the city, ticking all the boxes – it challenged the status quo, demonstrated leadership and design excellence, and will leave a lasting, sustainable legacy for the broader community.

The jury said “the seamless integration between theatre infrastructure within the parkland allows visitors to experience the open space all year round, even when performances are not scheduled, contributing to the civic life of the city. The beautifully-executed gabion rock walls of the parkland stage deliver a clear sense of performance and authority to the overall placemaking qualities of the space.”

The Registered Horticulturist membership is increasingly sought after as a marker of professional quality, and Andrew is proud to have led a project with such stellar outcomes.


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