by Neometro

Dialogue | Mira Martinazzo of MUD Office.

Architecture, Design, People - by Open Journal
  • Image by Erik Holt

26th January, 2021

Gardens have come full circle in the placement within the order of spatial magnitude in the development of our built environments. Once such an integral element, as our homes began to extrapolate upwards rather that outwards, medium and high-density living placed emphasis elsewhere. In the last decade however, the necessity for green space has come to be once again considered at the very outset of design development, often woven into the architecture of the built environment itself. Melbourne-based studio MUD Office, create landscapes that intuitively compliment the built fabric they accompany while providing respite and natural beauty. We talked with Mira Martinazzo, Landscape Architect and Director of MUD Office, about the studio’s approach and philosophies when it comes to mediating between the built and natural facets of our communities.

Open Journal (OJ): In your words, what is the purpose of a garden in a residential context?

Mira Martinazzo (MM):  We view the garden as an extension of the home, a sympathetic accompaniment setting the tone and providing meaningful spaces to use. Generally, we try to achieve a balance of spaces with quiet, tranquil moments, alongside more active energised spaces.  Connections between spaces flow easily.  

Image by Erik Holt

OJ: Mud Office gardens are distinguished by their softness and informality. What is it about this kind of engagement between people and place that informs this approach?

MM:  Our gardens are designed to be immersive spaces for relaxation and engagement.  These spaces are deliberately loose and unstructured to create an atmosphere in which to unwind and feel at home.  We like forgiving and slightly wild spaces that are not too precious.  Pristine gardens can be wonderful however they do require a level of maintenance that most clients do not have the inclination, nor the time for.  

Image by Erik Holt

OJ: There are times when a garden achieves resonance when reflecting the real world context, and times when a juxtaposition is valid. How is this navigated through garden design? 

MM:  Our landscapes relate to the immediate context as well as the greater context into which they are located.  The local context will always also have an influence on our designs.  This could be as simple as capturing a borrowed view or editing out views to unhelpful neighbouring elements.

More and more in an urban context we need relief from the built environment.  We need the therapy of engaging with, growing, and living within greenery. In a rural or coastal environment we work with the context rather than fight it.  We like to put the immediate context to good use, greater forces such as salt-laden winds can be used to shape an environment in a poetic and elemental way.  


Image by Erik Holt

OJ: I imagine there has been a distinct shift in the magnitude of residential garden architecture over the past couple of years as we have collectively spent A LOT more time at home. How has this been viewed by Mud Office? What changes (if any) has it informed for the studio?

MM:  Firstly we have witnessed a lot of love out there for our home gardens.  The level of enthusiasm, care and investment in outdoor spaces has been very positive.  Clients have well and truly been bitten by the gardening bug!  Gardens are never finished and the ongoing engagement with spaces has been very rewarding for all. 

On a practical level, we have noticed our clients are generally asking for more garden elements to be included within their outdoor areas.  The variety of experiences, activities and zones included in our designs has increased, in particular we have noticed a large uptake in requests for swimming pools.

Image by Tom Blachford

OJ: Mud Office environments largely touch the earth lightly, sustaining and regenerating as a marker of time. Can you please share your thoughts on how this will take the studio into the future? 

MM:  We will be creating landscapes that are more self-sustaining and less dependent on resources.  These landscapes will also support biodiversity and the creation of habitats beneficial to birds and insects.  Links to landscape corridors or the creation of microclimates will also shape these spaces. We will continue to use our soft landscaping toolbox to mitigate the heat island effect within urban spaces providing shade, protecting soil and greening buildings.

Image by Erik Holt

Feature image by Erik Holt.

With many thanks to Mira Martinazzo and MUD Office.

Interview compiled by Tiffany Jade

MUD Office has worked with NEOMETRO™ to produce landscape environments for South Crescent, Northcote. 57 Martin Street, Thornbury and Nine Wilson Ave, Brunswick.


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