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Raglan Street Parkland

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Landscape Architect: Site Office Landscape Architecture

Location: Corner Raglan Street & Ingles Street, Port Melbourne


OVERVIEW

The brief called for the design of a neighbourhood park providing greater facilities and amenity for local residents.  The project focused on suitable noise attenuation strategies that would increase amenity within the park, without disrupting visual continuity and pedestrian /bicycle circulation with the surrounding streets.

The original Raglan Street parkland is an example of one of the many ‘lost’ spaces within the urban fabric, spaces which, over time, have become separated and disconnected from the surrounding context.  This separation is the result of the progressive development of the city, characterised by an increase in quantity and speed of traffic and the resultant loss in amenity for pedestrians.  These spaces gradually develop when the traffic, noise and pollution reach such a level that people no longer stop and linger within them. While the public infrastructure often remains, such as planting and seating, the people do not, resulting in spaces that are empty and forgotten.

Within this context, the design for the Raglan Street parkland seeks to reinvigorate a forgotten public space where amenity has been severely eroded by adjacent heavy traffic. While the park remains well traversed by people and cyclists moving through Port Melbourne, no one lingers within the space. The design of the park explores different methods to increase amenity for pedestrians to a level that will reignite its important public function.  As such, the design objectives remains simple; provide shelter from the sun, seating, noise attenuation, enhance the existing trees, provide safety and separation from movement, flexible activity and meeting spaces and allow visual continuity to the surrounding neighbourhood.  Most important is to impart a sense of generosity of public space - successful public spaces are invariably generous in scale and purpose. The design of the Raglan Street Parkland becomes the delicate interweaving of the existing with the new and the reclamation of an amenable, generous public space.


The park design features a sculptural timber wall, providing localised noise attenuation from busy Ingles Street while maintaining visual continuity with the surrounding streets. The wall explores the traditional timber paling fence vernacular common to suburban Australian houses, in this case using a double skinned ship-lap timber cladding.  The wall gently winds its way across the edge of the park, carefully avoiding existing services and trees, and rises to a high point in the middle (3.2metres) where maximum noise attenuation occurs. 

Tucked behind the wall at this point is a shade structure, long bench table, seating, barbeque and timber deck, proving a centralised, elevated meeting space shielded from the adjacent noise and movement. The shade structure consists of a series of laser cut perforated panels which cast a fine lacework pattern across the tabletop, reminiscent of a lace tablecloth draped across the timber.  The six metre long bench table is large enough to allow multiple groups to occupy the table at the same time, encouraging interaction amongst the community.

Importantly, the slope of the wall also allows visual continuity around the edges of the park, ensuring greater safety as people walk across the site.  In this manner, circulation activities requiring visual continuity with surrounding streets (pedestrians and cyclists) are kept to the periphery of the park where the wall is at its lowest (0.6m), while more passive activities requiring greater enclosure (such as seating) are centralised behind the highest point of the wall.

Following the alignment of the timber wall is an indigenous wild flower display.  The wall provides an excellent backdrop screen effect, highlighting the unique qualities of each plant, as well as providing protection and shelter. The planting palette explores a range of local flora with great seasonal display of colour and form, as well as lower water requirements, extending the traditional street planting palette.


The project explores the sculptural and spatial possibilities of the noise attenuation wall, coupled with a rigorous analysis of existing and proposed noise levels to ensure the effectiveness of the proposal.  Working closely with acoustic engineers Bassett, the design team modelled and tested a variety of different wall configurations.   While there is no legislation defining acceptable noise levels within public parkland, the Vic Roads Traffic Noise Reduction Policy sets a traffic noise level objective for residences of 63 dBA.  This level established the assessment criteria for each wall configuration.  Noise measurements undertaken at the beginning of project indicated existing noise levels of 66-70 dBA. The final design offers localized noise attenuation down to 58 dBA behind the highest point of the wall (where the seating and shelter is located).  The choice of the double timber clad structure also achieves the requisite surface mass of 15 kg/m2 or greater necessary to fully block noise.  The wall provides localised noise attenuation while responding to the need to provide carefully scaled and detailed elements that fit into the surrounding context.  It avoids the construction of vastly over scaled and inappropriately detailed noise walls which often disrupt the urban fabric.


The design utilises a range of materials that possess low embodied energy and are easily maintained by council. The timber wall, shade structure, furniture and decking are constructed from plantation grown, radially cut hardwood.  The wall was carefully designed on screw piles (rather than continuous strip footing) to avoid damage to the roots of the existing mature tree.  Existing bluestone edging was reused within the park, and porous surfaces maximised.  Drainage is directed towards the indigenous wild flower, maximising passive irrigation of the planting.


CLIENT      City of Port Phillip

BUDGET      $160,000

TEAM     

Design & Documentation- Site Office Landscape Architecture

Acoustic Engineering - Bassett Acoustic

Structural Engineering  - TD&C Pty Ltd

DATE COMPLETED      April 2007


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