Seacombe West – Australia’s First Regenerative Community
Seacombe West, located to the southern edge on Lake Wellington, Gippsland Lakes system, aspires to become a Regenerative Community for all of the future stakeholders of the area.
The site, of approximately 680ha, has suffered from significant ecological degradation resulting from the channel between the fresh water lakes and the adjacent estuary. This channel, created in the late 1800s has led to the salinisation of the land and diminished the overall health of the ecosystem. Furthermore, the Gippsland Lakes suffer an overload of phosphorus due to agricultural activities of the area greatly diminishing its water quality and endangering wetland biodiversity.
To describe the project aim, one must consider two different lenses:
- For the land owners, the final goal was to achieve a regenerative master plan. This means they strived towards a development that supports the community and its environment to develop a mutually beneficial relationship.
- For the researchers, the project aim relates to the facilitation process to explore the ways and strategies through which a LENSES process can foster a regenerative development.
The Facilitation Process
Researchers applied a regenerative design processes comprising four different workshops. The first workshop focused on gaining indigenous insights on the site. Workshops two, three and four were LENSES. The second workshop explored with the design team the concept of regenerative development. The third workshop worked with the local community to identify and prioritise their needs. These three workshops involved a mix of stakeholders, including community members, academics, designers, government representatives, indigenous leaders, students and others. The workshops emerged as the guiding principles for the project. Lastly, the fourth workshop brought together a wide variety of experts to collaborate in a design charrette and co-create the design concepts and ideas to be followed on to the subsequent design phases.
Results emerging from facilitation process
The project aims were successfully achieved from both a research and a land owners’ perspectives. By the end of the facilitation process, the design team were provided with an aboriginal sense of place, a historic timeline extending to 67,000 years ago, an objective prioritisation of project aims and design guidelines. These documents served as drivers of the design process.