Box Hill Gardens Multi Use Purpose Area
- ASPECT Studios & NMBW Architecture Studio
- Whitehorse City Council (Client / Arts and Recreation Development)
- GTA, MB Lighting Design, Form Structures
- Andrew Lloyd (photographer)
Box Hill Gardens is a mature park within the rapidly transforming urban centre of Box Hill. The Master Plan of 2011 proposed a shift in the usability of the park with new recreation elements and the rejuvenation of existing park spaces. This was in response to the increased density and population using the park as well as accommodating new recreational activities reflecting Box Hill’s contemporary cultural mix.
The team created an innovative multi-purpose space with a diverse array of recreation activities and events. The former tennis club building and courts where reinterpreted and recycled into a contemporary and highly tactile design.
1.The seamless integration of landscape and architecture.
The new space has been made by re-using the original terraces of the previous tennis courts. The retaining wall on the east side extends to form a large hit-up wall, which makes a double- use of the rear of the amenities block structure. This small building has been sited to service the courts and face the park beyond. Similarly, the large shade roof at the northern end works at a landscape-scale, facing both inwards and out to the northern expanse of parkland. Strong graphics join floor and wall, provoking different uses and occupations.
2.The creation of a contemporary recreational and events surface that progresses from the traditional singular-use sports court.
The surface functions as a flexible community space, providing courts for multiple sport and recreation activities, including tai chi and table tennis as well as ball sports, cycling and skateboarding. The surface is also designed to accommodate different scales of public events, such as community markets, food stalls, dance and music performances utilising the natural terracing of the two main levels and bleacher-seating. Power infrastructure has been provided at either end of the space to allow for plug-in sound and additional lighting.
3.The recycling and reinterpretation of the former tennis club.
The footprint of the original brick clubhouse has been reused as seating platforms, while recycled bricks from its demolition have been utilised within the construction of a new toilet block and brick platforms. Clubhouse bricks are stamped ‘Box Hill’, a peculiarity revealed during the dismantling of the clubhouse. This text is laid face up within areas of the brick platforms acting as an historical marker. The umpire’s chair and tennis roller from the previous courts have been salvaged and installed as playful remnants of the previous life of the site.
4.The use of colour and graphics to encourage use.
A dynamic and engaging super graphic defines the play areas and creates an iconic and playful destination for the growing community. Functional line marking is presented in a playful manner and embellished with a series of lines and dots to encourage alternate ways to engagement. The deliberate use of a reduced vertical material palette (existing recycled brick; supplemented with glazed, precast concrete bleachers, and fine galvanised steel) is sympathetic to the park environment and context. The strong visual graphic applied to the horizontal surfacing (blue plexipave) contrasts to this vertical palette.
5.The integration of the urban surroundings.
The project demonstrates a new way for the community to inhabit and use park spaces, beyond the traditional singular use activity typically prescribed within public spaces. The new multi-purpose surface provides flexibility in use and a diverse range of recreational and sporting pursuits within a limited area. Amenity is provided to encourage use and occupation at all times of the year and weather conditions. This growing community – of new residents and workers and large hospital population – has been delivered a valued and unique public space that adds to the local history of the site.