Power to pedestrians

Friday 31 Aug 2012

Lonsdale Street's boulevard becomes the heart of central Dandenong once again

A five hundred metre long boulevard established via the extension of patterned paving and the creation of garden rooms with pedestrian and cyclist priority environment has become a vibrant and successful shopping centrepiece for Dandenong. A linear garden runs along the length of the road, with double rows of Pin Oaks creating a significant arrival element that forms a park environment and a desirable community meeting place.

In line with urban stormwater best practice, a series of rain gardens captures and treats localised stormwater run-off to be reused for irrigation purposes. Creating a lush planting display and textured boulevard; Lonsdale Street has become a vibrant and successful spine for Dandenong.

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.

Lonsdale Street was redesigned by TCL & BKK working in collaboration, as a grand boulevard with a pedestrian and community focus. Through traffic was concentrated into a central band defined by four rows of trees creating a majestic boulevard. Adjacent to the retail frontages, a broad tree lined plaza, shared traffic zones and linear gardens provide a pedestrian realm of generosity and distinction for the interaction between pedestrians and vitally missing community spaces.

The design is an example of an interdisciplinary project led by landscape architects, with a large and diverse team of engineers and many governmental stakeholders to successfully complete the boulevard redevelopment. The design team challenged the current condition of a car dominated environment and proposed a radical redesign of the main road to treat pedestrians as the highest priority, establishing a design approach around four key principles.

The first principal was to reduce the amount of asphalt and vehicle carriageway and greatly increase the pedestrian realm. The second aimed to introduce pedestrian prioritised crossings along the entire length of the street. The third aimed to create pedestrian spaces where motorist have to acknowledge pedestrians; and to the final principled aimed to realign all engineering aspects of the street to establish a new boulevard at the heart of Dandenong.

The rethinking firstly of what a road can be and then realising the built outcome was achieved by a team of civil, structural, service and traffic engineers led by a landscape architect. This leading role demonstrates the importance of landscape architects in large and complex public realm infrastructure projects such as Lonsdale Street.

Key Facts:

Urban design

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