Interview - Coffee Break with Janine Mendel

20th Nov 2018 • Enrichment

Janine's landscape designs pack a punch, when she is not designing she is helping to spread the word about biophilic design with the team from Biophilic Cities Perth.

Today’s coffee break is with Perth Landscape Architect Janine Mendel. Janine founded her business CultivArt in 1987, and she is known for her unique and sustainable landscapes ranging from large gardens to contemporary courtyards. Consecutively Janine has been awarded the biennial Landscape Award of Excellence three times and has a number of various awards under her belt. She has also published 2 books, Quintessiantly Oz (2006) and Urban Sanctuary (2012).

We spent a few minutes with Janine discussing her passion for biophilic design, some of her favourite plants to use in her designs, as well as how you can get involved with Biophilic Cities Perth.

For those who haven’t heard of biophilic design, what is it exactly?

Biophilia means ‘love of nature’ and biophilic design brings elements of the natural world into the built environment. At its simplest level it incorporates natural materials, natural light, vegetation, views to nature. At its heart biophilic design has a positive effect on human health and well-being but of course it is more complex than this.

Why are you passionate about biophilic design?

About 18 months ago, I attended a talk by Tim Beatley (Author of Biophilic Cities and Internationally recognised Sustainable city researcher) I was captivated and inspired and came to the realisation that I was already a biophilic designer! I had just never had a word that described my own design philosphy so aptly. Anyway I was hooked and became part of the steering committee for Biophilic Cities Perth. I am particularly passionate about how we can incorporate biophilic design into the design of small sites. I would like to see better house design that doesn't have ‘big’ as its main adjective. Small well designed, high quality homes that have a good indoor outdoor connection. I believe that we should be designing sites not houses and that the garden should be an integral part of the design. With better planning we can create truly liveable, walkable cities and suburbs that lower the heat island effect and create a natural connection between properties so each home looks like “it” has been planted in the garden.

Can you tell us something most people wouldn’t know about you?

My first career was as a cartographer mapping for mining companies.

What is your favourite plant to use in your landscape designs?

Just one? There are so many! In WA the palette is quite limited as we have a challenging climate and water restrictions, but some of my faves are Frangipanis, Callistemons (Bottlebrush) Leucospermums, Anigozanthus, Oh there are just too many to pick. A personal favourite is the Poinciana tree for its beautiful umbrella shape, and its brilliant vermillion flowers.

How can people get involved or learn more about Biophilic Cities Perth?

We are just in the process of incorporating so its early days but anyone interested can check out our facebook page or join the mailing list. We have some great events coming up.