Founding Director, MudMap Studio



How can we collaborate with traditional custodians, local artists and the community at large in a way that respects the value of local knowledge?

Two years ago, Vanessa Margetts created MudMap Studio, a landscape architecture and public art practice in the remote Kimberley town of Broome. Through her practice, Vanessa is investigating an adaptable business model which allows a unique and appropriate team to be created for each project.

Traditional engagement practice sees community members outside of the central team of consultants, often asked to contribute local knowledge without payment. MudMap Studio’s model offers an alternative approach, engaging key community experts as core project team members.

This approach leads to meaningful community engagement and positive project results. Having locals as part of the team throughout the whole design process provides income, builds capacity, and keeps money where it’s needed – within the community. At the same time, design outcomes are enriched and well-grounded in place.

Our practice and process must be flexible to allow for multiple ways of sharing knowledge to ensure our local experts are respected and included. At a time when community input is often the key driver of successful project outcome, we must be able to adapt – to ‘cut the cloth to fit’.


Vanessa Margetts is the founding director of MudMap Studio, a Broome based Landscape Architecture practise that focuses on community driven landscape architecture and public art. Vanessa believes that good design is about listening and providing opportunities to tell stories and share knowledge of place.
Vanessa enjoys a collaborative approach to all her work and has been involved in a number of award winning cultural and heritage projects including the Yawuru Cultural Management Plan (IFLA President’s Award, AILA Australian Medal for Landscape Architecture) and Jetty to Jetty – Stories of Broome Heritage Trail (Museums & Galleries National Awards, AILA Australian Landscape Architecture Award).
In 2016 Vanessa was selected as one of the 'Top 10 Emerging Voices' in the profession by Landscape Australia.