Piet Louw and Dave Dewar collaborate with Square One to design a master plan for Melbourne based on civic alignments and visual axes in the form of ‘great streets’ and multi-way boulevards, connecting institutions and special places

Piet Louw and Dave Dewar collaborate with Square One to design a master plan for Melbourne based on civic alignments and visual axes in the form of ‘great streets’ and multi-way boulevards, connecting institutions and special places


Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Restructuring the Inner City of Melbourne: The Role of Open Space and the Future Park is a proposed urban design project by Piet Low and Dave Dewar of Low and Dewar with Square One and for The Future Park Design Ideas.

Melbourne is in need of restructuring at numerous scales. 

The dominant spatial patterns of sprawl, fragmentation, and separation underpin many of the most serious problems the city faces including the erosion of agriculture and wilderness landscapes; excessive amounts of vehicular movement at great cost to household budgets; loss of productive time; increasing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. 

The creation of “a new park system” must be used as a restructuring instrument. 

Restructuring the Inner City of Melbourne: The Role of Open Space and the Future Park has recently been awarded a 2022 Green GOOD DESIGN Sustainability Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

It is a long-term idea and at a city scale, two interrelated actions are required. 

The first compacts the city by significantly restricting future lateral spread, making an edge in the form of an agricultural and forested belt around the existing built fabric. 

The second intensifies and densifies within the existing city. 

This should only occur within a hierarchical and strategically located system of mixed-use urban activity corridors (not car-orientated mobility ones), reinforced by public transportation along their centerlines and defined by convenient walking distances. 

The inner city area should be a particularly important zone of intensification. 

The present structure is confused and fragmented by a series of barriers caused by movement-related rail infrastructure, resulting in flood-prone areas. 

A primary barrier is the railway shunting yards cutting the historic core off from the river. 

To rectify this, a number of actions are proposed: 

Two new transport interchange stations are proposed: one terminating the western rail system; the other, the eastern system. 

The rail-related infrastructure between them is removed, opening up a large parcel of land enabling intensification whilst ensuring a softer transition between the historic core and the river. 

Urban activity corridors are identified for intensification. 

The highest order corridor runs east-west, and the secondary, north-south, creating a cardo/decamanus condition with the historic core acting as a pivot at the cross-route. 

Civic alignments and visual axes in the form of ‘great streets’ and multi-way boulevards, connect institutions and special places. 

To achieve high densities and reduce gas emissions, development takes the form of “walk-ups,” as opposed to a sporadic expansion pattern of vertical high-rise structures. 

Higher densities demand greater use of public space, thus the “new park” is located to the south and west of the historic core. 

It is intensely multi-functional, acknowledging the cultural heritage role of Melbourne’s waterways. 

The project restructures the current confused and fragmented structure providing passive and active recreation, urban agriculture, market structures, and an urban square as a gateway space.

Overall, the project provides a response to contemporary needs; an ecological role, passive and active recreation, urban agriculture, market structure, an urban square as a gateway space, and residential opportunity edges.

Project: Restructuring the Inner City of Melbourne: The Role of Open Space and the Future Park
Architects: Louw and Dewar
Design Team: Piet Louw and Dave Dewar
Associate Architects: Square One
Design Team: Mark Saint Pot and Julia McLachlan
Client: The Future Park Design Ideas

IAA23





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