Australian Fine China

HASSELL: The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority’s (MRA) Australian Fine China precinct is a mixed-use redevelopment of a historically-significant, former factory site in the inner-city suburb of Subiaco, Perth. The site was home to the Australian Fine China porcelain manufacturing company for 85 years, until its closure in 2006, which presented a unique opportunity for reinvention. The public realm was designed in collaboration with the MRA, the architect and specialist consultants, to achieve the vision of a culturally rich and distinctive urban community that enhances and connects to the surrounding commercial and residential areas through a generous parkland and open space network.

The HASSELL design references the site’s history of design and manufacture to deliver a fine-grain landscape that combines urban elements, signature artworks and heritage features to echo past uses and reflect the social and cultural values of the area.

It integrates complex infrastructure with industrial heritage through co-ordinated strategies for material salvage, recycling and interpretation, tree retention and transplantation. A number of significant industrial artefacts and architectural features have been retained, such as one of the original tunnel kilns for firing of porcelain, which will form the centrepiece to one of the future buildings, while being integrated with publicly accessible space for the enjoyment of all. Active water fountains cue the central role of water in the story of the site, in both the porcelain making process and the ongoing regenerative systems.

Artist Stuart Green developed a series of tactile sculptural artworks that share the story of the site and playfully engage the public by creating focal points and framing views, forming seating and offering contemplative spaces.

The precinct has interfaces at a range of ground levels. The links created form important connections to facilitate the increasing level of pedestrian traffic. The feature stairs have been designed to create a usable space, through the incorporation of seating and garden beds on the landings, while navigating the most significant level change on the site.

A precinct-wide approach to sustainability offers resilience through increased biodiversity, water efficiency, and socially responsive design. Rigorous spatial planning ensured an appropriate mix of spaces and scales. The streets and urban plaza are pedestrian friendly and encourage social activity. A central spine running north to south links the site visually and physically with the surroundings, easing the flow of pedestrian and cyclist access and encouraging the use of public transport.

Australian Fine China delivers a quality and depth of public realm essential to the success of mixed-use urban residential developments with high levels of community demand and expectation. In particular, the careful scaling of the public domain will ensure future residents experience a village-like atmosphere in an environment that respects its unique history, while stimulating its cultural future.

Landscape Architecture: HASSELL
Project name: Australian Fine China
Location: Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Completion date: 2012
Area: 4 ha
Budget: A$5 m
Client: Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority
Collaboration: Stuart Green (Artist)
Consultant team: Phil Griffiths Architects (Heritage Architect) & Godden McKay Logan (Heritage Consultants)
Image credits: Peter Bennetts

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