Port Adelaide Renewal: Hart’s Mill Surrounds

  • 2015

  • Architectural
    Place Design

Commissioned By:

Renewal SA

Designed In:


Hart’s Mill Surrounds is a revitalised and attractive public realm in Port Adelaide which is located adjacent to the wharf with a backdrop of one of Adelaide’s most iconic heritage listed industrial buildings. The project includes a large playspace with new recreation areas and together with an adapted flour shed provides a series of multifunctional spaces for events and markets. The project has been delivered as a premier destination in a suite of ‘early win’ interventions that have been rolled out around the port with the aim of increasing visitation and providing greater access and amenity to the waterfront. It is located on a newly established hike and bike loop around the former harbour and Port River.

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  • The design was developed to reveal the cultural significance of the Mill and its surroundings as a key piece of industrial heritage. The playspace was designed thematically to reference the milling processes and array of smaller elements. A central rail line is retained as a reminder of previous site uses, along with a curtilage and access to the western edge of the main flour mill and retrofitted flour shed. Two elevated concrete framed platforms containing the park elements is bound by a riverside hike and bike loop with interpretation that doubles as both recreational space and an outdoor museum. A series of viewing port installations at key points use historic images and stories as wayfinding guides.

  • An innovative new regional level playspace themed around the site's flour milling history is a major feature of the site and provides an engaging, contemporary and original play facility for Port Adelaide and the wider region. It is designed to cater for children of all ages, and importantly, for adults too. The playspace is complemented with raised grassed platforms suitable for a range of organised events (eg Laneway Festival), Markets (a Farmers Markets has been established) and social gatherings. The repurposed flour shed extends the events space. A continuous skateable concrete ledge provides informal seating. A long shelter provides space for tables and BBQ facilities, situated overlooking the Port River.

  • The playspace was designed to include elements for all age and ability groups, featuring DDA compliant access and extensive seating. A playground safety fence has been installed. The riverfront promenade provides an 8 metre wide safety barrier from the park activities and the river's edge and Renewal SA has installed additional safety devices including life buoys for further precaution. BBQ and picnic facilities including toilets and drinking fountains directly frame the playspace and multiple shelters provide weather protection for both children and their carers. The path network established across the site is compliant with DDA requirements.

  • The strict brief required that the works were to be constructed on a tight budget, with the aim of providing a temporary space to be further enhanced when more financial investment became available. The project team considered the potential timeframe for further redevelopment (likely to be 20 years or more) and ensured that the works were durable and of lasting quality - an authentic response to the port environment. The extensive use of wide plinths of insitu poured concrete as containers to park areas is one such example of simple design solutions with long term durability benefits, along with reuse of wharf timbers. All play equipment is of the highest standard and able to withstand the marine environment.

    The combined projects of the Hart's Mill precinct have been highly successful in activating this formerly forgotten part of Port Adelaide. High visitation numbers are being experienced with families travelling from regional areas to make use of the new play area and park facilities, frequenting the Sunday markets and experiencing the Port Waterfront. A packed program of events in the precinct is ensuring maximum public exposure. Feedback from local residents, businesses and social media has been extremely positive, and the space is alive at all times of the day and into the evenings. The activation of this site will be beneficial to increasing commercial activity in the nearby Port centre district.

    While the overall design responds to the strict briefing parameters of use, budget and safety, the conceptual framework is drawn from a thorough understanding of the history of the place. The interpretive response to the milling process, the re-use of existing timbers, and the industrial aesthetic and bold colouring are reflections of the former use of the place and provide an outcome that is both unique and sensitive to the cultural significance of the place. Using simple and durable materials coupled with exquisitely detailed interpretive elements that weave a narrative of the sites history, the precinct is a living museum with an inbuilt flexibility allowing for transformation into a dynamic event space.