Halpin Way, Settlers Square and Pop-up Park
Landscape Architect: ASPECT Studios
Once a town in its own right, Dandenong has grown to be the second largest urban centre in Melbourne and one of the largest manufacturing regions in Australia. For Dandenong to service the burgeoning population of south-eastern Melbourne, its new character as a highly multicultural hub, and its role as a destination for new industry it needed to undergo intensive rejuvenation.
With the centre of Dandenong in transition, Halpin Way and the adjacent public plaza of Settlers Square would be key elements in its larger urban and social transformation.
With limited urbanity as context, these two public realms required a timeless design which could act as a place in its own right while devoid of built surrounds, to operate as an activator, attractor and focal public realm to assist in driving development, and act as a catalyst for new built form to be delivered into the future.
As lead consultant ASPECT Studios, working collaboratively with a team of artists, architects and engineering consultants, has been involved in the full spectrum of the overall design, from the overall spatial and built form master plan of the precinct, to the design and documentation of the central street and square, lanes, public art and lighting.
From the outset, this project focused on:
the delivery of a one of Australia's first large scale 'shared use' streets – Halpin Way – and working to develop the best shared use street configuration for a complex site,
developing the final land use parcel layout, creating a pedestrian priority link between the station and centre of town over a significant change in level, protecting and incorporating into the new urban fabric the one remaining heritage building in the area, ensuring that the street was non-linear in its form to create a range of spaces and user experiences, and the public square could gather its energy from public activation without relying on commercial usage to generate activity.
The design engages with the topography of the site, and the non-linear nature of the street allows for full integration of public art into the design. Sustainability is embedded in the project, from material selection to construction techniques, and includes water sensitive urban design, passive irrigation to street trees, storm water storage tanks for irrigation, and low energy use lighting.
A Pop-up Park for recreation was established on a key site adjacent to Settlers Square as part of the activation strategy. This project enabled the training and employment of local youth; the resultant active open space combined sports, community and passive recreation into the one site and created an initial central meeting hub for the public, beginning the process of activation and community 'ownership'.
In Halpin Way, Settlers Square and Pop-up Park, ASPECT Studios' unique landscape architectural leadership is developing industry best practice in the delivery of innovative urban form, shared street design and civic rejuvenation.
Halpin Way, Settlers Square and the associated Pop-up Park form an extended civic link over three full city blocks to the revitalised town centre of Dandenong. Halpin Way is a new fully shared and kerbless street with consistent pavement for pedestrians, bicycles and cars. The street has been considered as a stretched urban room, with its width opened up and then tightened to offer a range of spatial experiences.
The project's delivery is designed to take place over a number of years with the associated challenge of designing the street and the square to work in their own right without the immediate benefit of buildings with known uses along a number of their edges. The Pop Up Park is planned to be replaced eventually with buildings.
Settlers Square provides an important link between the railway station and Halpin Way while astutely resolving some complex level changes.
Overall, the project makes a substantial contribution to Dandenong, providing a well-detailed, high-quality civic environment.