Our People

Mauricio Herrera Villa

Registered Landscape Architect

Profile

I grew up in Medellín, Colombia, where I studied a Bachelor of Architecture and Graduate Degree of Urban Design. Prior to moving to Australia in 2015, I spent four years working in architectural design. My horticultural research from this period culminated in the first ever ornamental plant guide for the city of Medellín.

I initially came to WAX in mid-2017 as a graduate, having been taught by WAX Directors Amanda Balmer and Warwick Keates as part of my Masters of Landscape Architecture. One of the courses, led by Amanda, was instrumental to my practice. It was centred on plant knowledge – not theory, not philosophy, but the practical use of plants in landscape design. As a landscape architect, plants are my tools. It is my job to create functional designs using these tools, rather than something that simply looks or feels good. It is about knowing the right plants for the right landscape, and their right purpose, as it translates to measurable outcomes – heat reduction in urban centres, drought resistance, reduced water usage and long-term environmental management.

Having worked in both Australia and Colombia I see big differences between the two, ecologically and culturally. Medellín is a spring city, the temperature almost never drops below 20 degrees. Its vibrant, lush greenery is at odds with the silver and gold greens of Adelaide. Ironically though, Adelaide is greener. It has more parklands, more shared green spaces, but oddly enough people don’t seem to recognise them as theirs. When I ask people to identify the green spaces in their city, they name their back yard. It is a cultural approach; there is plenty of room to shift this thinking and re-educate people’s relationship to the landscapes they live amongst.