St Kilda is an inner-city bayside retail, hospitality and tourist precinct with an inimitable and eclectic character. Acland Street is its pumping retail and activity strip.
Our renewal project is a new Route 96 tram terminus structure surrounded by a public plaza. It has involved repurposing 1300 square metres of road and parking spaces into pedestrian and open spaces. The plaza occupies 600 square metres of this space.
We designed it in collaboration with landscape architects McGregor Coxall.
The renewal site is at Acland Street’s eastern end, just before it terminates at Barkly Street, and has involved closing a section the road to traffic (apart from trams).
The new plaza, with street furniture and tram shelters, is a setting for the large events and festivals that St Kilda already hosts, plus an opportunity for new ones. It also creates a pleasant, social everyday place to sit, eat, chat, and wait for trams safely and comfortably. It welcomes the public, free of charge.
The plaza’s design language evokes the idea of bubbles, which we associate with St Kilda beach and celebratory drinks. It has large bluestone circles on the ground and circular street furniture that looks as if it’s been extruded from them.
Our custom-designed tram shelters look like flowers or fountains bursting from the ground, and on a design-detail level their ribs pay homage to the previous tram shelter design seen throughout Melbourne. Even with these new objects, we have kept views and sightlines open to preserve Acland Street’s original promenade feel.
We removed the kerbs and stairs wherever possible for accessibility. The new tram terminus is a fully accessible super stop, and Route 96 is now Melbourne’s first fully accessible tram route. The new stop is far safer for tram users, who no longer have to negotiate busy traffic as they board and leave the trams.
The super stop does not stand out as a heavy-duty piece of infrastructure: it satisfies all functional and accessibility requirements but our motif of circles and our flower shelters bring an individual quality to it that ties it to its place.
Compared to the site’s previous car-dominated state, our new plaza is an activated, accessible and pedestrian-oriented piece of urban design. Its flexible space balances the needs of everyday use with catering for events and festivals. It feels lively and full between events.