Shifting Sands

An interactive biophilic landscape

Shifting Sands is a ‘Living Lab’ aimed at encouraging communal and educational experiences concerning both sustainable design and Perth’s unique landscape. At the same time, it is a piece of art: a symbolic representation of geomorphology, soil and flora and their dynamic character. It acts as a hub for students, staff and visitors who are interested in design, art, ecology and culture.

Shifting Sands is a tangible outcome of Professor Maria Ignatieva’s project “Perth as a biophilic resilient city model in the time of climate change” and was supported by a Faculty Research Collaboration Award grant. This landscape design and art installation is a miniature symbol of a biophilic city where design principles are integrated with natural and ecological processes.

A passerby will observe the daily, seasonal and annual changes of these dynamic landscapes.

The design principles include:

  • Sustainability (using recycled materials and low water species)
  • Biodiversity (using native Western Australian plant species)
  • Aesthetics (showcasing the coexistence of nature and culture)
  • Education (being an interactive living lab for students, staff and visitors)
View the project brochure



UWA Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education

  • Research Collaboration Award




This project was completed with the support of:

  • Benara Nurseries
  • Plantrite Wholesale Native Nursery
  • Ellenby Tree Farm
  • Baldivis Water
  • The Green Life Soil Co

A site for ongoing learning

This project engaged Landscape Architecture students in a hands-on learning experience. Recent alumni Denis Wittwer and Sam Clements worked closely with Professor Maria Ignatieva and Dr Ionat Zurr on the design, while Joe Winfield, Yuqi Yang, Callum Nixon McIvor, Anoosheh Gohari and Qian Yap contributed to the installation process.

The turf seats invite students, staff and visitors to sit and enjoy a sanctuary for creative thinking, and the installation may be used in classes ranging from landscape architecture to fine arts.


Each clustered formation within the installation represents a different landscape.


Visit the Shifting Sands installation on the lawns north of the Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts building on the UWA Nedlands campus.