HASSELL: Nicholson Street Mall, located in the centre of the Melbourne suburb of Footscray, is the primary civic space for the local community, serving as its commercial and social hub and representing the identity and aspirations of the municipality. Pedestrianised in the 1970s, the mall was the first of its kind in Australia and represented an innovative approach in its creation of a car-free civic space. By 2006, the condition of the mall no longer reflected its importance, and so Maribyrnong City Council committed to revamping the space to facilitate a stronger sense of community and cater for a diverse range of cultural activities.
The HASSELL redesign continues this legacy of innovation through the installation of a vibrant and robust civic space that incorporates the latest initiatives in water sensitive and public realm design. The conceptual structuring element – an abstract yellow line – was a clear driver in the design development and is evident as the unifying element. The yellow ‘ribbon’, representing a ‘line of intensity’ runs through the mall and is used as an organisational device to group all of the functional elements such as street furniture and amenities.
Custom-made seating designed to reflect the angular forms of the ribbon, and other urban elements, have been introduced and co-located with trees wherever possible. They are set in intimate clusters that accommodate community activities, cultural events, markets and gatherings. Contrasting pavers have also been used to differentiate between spaces and enhance the graphic language. Existing large, healthy trees ensure continuous shade in the mall and deciduous trees have been incorporated to maximise winter solar access. Drought tolerant natives have also been introduced throughout.
The dynamic, graphic and bold design references the colour and movement of local cultural practices – vibrant and active street life, dance, celebration and street art. The mall now has open views and ample lighting and is a central gathering space for community members, providing a place to congregate, converse, perform, eat and shop.
It was a challenge to respond to the diversity of Footscray. Nicholson Street Mall represents a successful collaboration between designers, contractors and fabricators, Council, engineers, artists and local community to achieve a unique and sensitive reworking of a central civic space. It is a clear example of how landscape architecture can provide direct benefits to the local community through the enhancement and reactivation of civic spaces at a local level.
Landscape Architecture: HASSELL
Project name: Nicholson Street Mall
Location: Footscray, Victoria, Australia
Completion date: 2008
Area: 1,900 sqm
Client: Maribyrnong City Council
Collaboration: Lighting: Norman Disney Young; Artist: Karen Casey
Photography by Dianna Snape