Low carbon Barry Street Precinct
- Ailish Cook
- Talia Fitzgerald
- Gerard Snowdon
Low carbon Barry Street Precinct is an alternative streetscape design project that rapidly increases public open space in a high density neighbourhood.
It does this without the usual large economic, construction, and carbon costs associated with public space building projects.
This design introduces an assessment methodology to identify areas of underperformance in the existing environment, and interventions are proposed within the physical and material constraints. The feasibility of the design approach is tested through development of construction drawings..
Design is exhibited as a problem-solving profession for the urban environment, rather than for the production of objects.
We want people to be able to walk, wheel and cycle around their neighbourhoods. Public open spaces should be free, welcoming, and have high environmental performance.
The realities around housing the growing population of inner city Prahran has meant less and less public open space, while people live in smaller quarters. The changing buildings of the suburb have created more heat sinking materials, less tree cover, and social infrastructure hasn’t kept pace.
This project brings a contemporary Australian design agenda to the streetscape that rapidly increases public open space without the usual large economic, construction, and carbon costs.
The construction industry contributes more than a third of the total global final-energy use. This design project identifies places in the built environment that are underperforming socially and environmentally, and re-designs within their physical and material constraint, creating new public space through adaptive re-use.
Our approach to design in this project allows for excellent public space outcomes, maintaining the embodied carbon in the already constructed environment.
As a catalyst, this project design demonstrates at the small scale how more can be achieved with less. More social outcomes, more environmental outcomes, less carbon production, less physical production, less physical resources.
There are many examples of landscape architecture where design cleverly uses the existing built form to create a new purpose, but these are far outside the operating norms in Victoria.
The design attitudes in this project set a new benchmark for Victorian design, in both the driving environmental concepts, and the delivery of public space that works for a cross-section of society.
We appear to create a new public place from thin air.
Our design prioritises aesthetics and environmental comfort for people, meaning there isn’t a trade-off between ‘doing the right thing’ and ‘having a good place’.
This project addresses a problem facing many Melbourne suburbs, where urbanisation and increased population density serves to reduce the per capita allocation of public open space.
This project introduces a ‘fractional assessment’ methodology, where existing public spaces including streets, car parks (on-street and structures), laneways and rooftops are evaluated. Fractions of space are repurposed through adaptive re-use, to measurably improve social and environmental outcomes.
We think increased population density is a good thing, and creates a lot of potential to improve quality of life. Accordingly, we need to look critically at how all public spaces are programmed as suburbs change.
We’ve created a list. This project; Creates walkable neighbourhoods for the people of Prahran and Windsor. Makes the environment more accessible for people using wheelchairs, or with low vision. Increases the tree canopy cover which reduces urban heat. Introduces space for herbaceous plants, which contribute to insect biodiversity. Minimises the use of virgin materials in unnecessary construction. Values the embodied carbon in the construction we’ve already done. Reduces landfill. Changes community values about re-using what we have. Demonstrates how design as a profession contributes to high quality outcomes. Is a physical embodiment of future design values in Victoria.