Central Dandenong has a unique cultural richness, a dynamic produce market, performing arts precinct and distinctive retail sector, yet the economic decline of the city over many years, took its toll on the overall civic character and public realm experience. Lonsdale Street was historically a prosperous retail spine but in recent years had developed into a major arterial route dissecting the retail heart and creating a significant physical and psychological barrier to the city.
BKK/TCL’s approach to Urban Design projects of this magnitude is curatorial, recognising that successful urban design should not be concerned with a fixed plan but instead offer key ideas that are fundamental catalysts for change. Equally this project furthers BKK/TCL’s ongoing investigations into place-making, and strategies that build upon local character, offering positive solutions for change to strengthen and empower communities.
Lonsdale Street was informed by an extensive consultation period undertaken by Places Victoria (formally Vic Urban) and the City of Greater Dandenong which identified valued physical and cultural characteristics of the city and provided the aspirational components of our brief. This study was supplemented by our own exhaustive mappings and masterplanning for the City to ensure the urban design for Lonsdale Street was transformational yet built upon the distinctive qualities of the setting.
BKK/TCL’s vision for Lonsdale Street was built upon a number of strategic moves:
• Connections; Instead of a significant barrier, Lonsdale Street became a key connecting catalyst, fostering clear and legible street connections to each of the City’s key public assets.
• Street Life: Creating a memorable boulevard, animated along its length and connected to a range of finer grain experiences from active retail edges, pocket parks, to civic plazas.
• Knitting into the Urban Morphology; Ensuring Lonsdale Street was structured to build upon the distinctive urban structure of the City , reinforcing existing fine grain patterns.
• Protecting Valued Urban Places: Identifying Lonsdale Street and its adjacent precincts as a significant opportunity to curate the ongoing retention of cultural destinations and creating new opportunities for urban places and activity to develop.
• Investment and Design Excellence: Creating opportunities for investment and further development via the creation of a rich and enduring public realm experience.
Lonsdale Street was conceived as a grand boulevard with a pedestrian focus. Through traffic was concentrated into a central band defined by four rows of trees. Adjacent to the retail frontages, broad tree lined plazas, shared traffic zones and linear gardens provide a pedestrian realm of generosity and distinction. The design is an example of an interdisciplinary approach to the construction of the city involving expertise across a wide range of disciplines and continuous liaison with key stakeholders