Richmond Terrace Pocket Park

  • 2016

  • Architectural
    Place Design

Commissioned By:

City of Yarra

Designed In:


The park was created through the permanent closure of two streets in Richmond as part of the City of Yarra’s “Roads to Parks Program”.

The outcome is an intimate, inner-urban park providing highly valued green space for the local community in a form which recognises and celebrates the site’s history.

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  • Arranged as a series of platforms to address the change in levels, the park provides grass to lie on, seats to sit on & walls to recline on. The park is spatially arranged to provide a sense of enclosure for users whilst maintaining important vistas of the MCG & Melbourne CBD skyline to the west & the iconic Bryant & May tower to the south. Cultural context is communicated in a subtle yet effective way. The design utilises materials which at first glance appear incongruous with their historic abuttals, but on closer inspection reveal a clear acknowledgement of the importance of these buildings to the history & local community, notably references to the stained glass windows of St Ignatius' Church.

  • The Park provides highly sought after green open space in a heavily urbanised environment. This particular project resulted from a community driven campaign for such a space. While much of the site has been repurposed to provide this, buildings adjoining the space still have vehicular access, allowing the area to now be usable for cyclists, drivers & pedestrians alike. The community has truly embraced the space. Over numerous site visits in the 18 months since completion, it has been rare for us to find it unoccupied. It has been transformed from a nondescript low-volume traffic thoroughfare with on-street parking for a handful of cars to a vibrant & attractive community meeting place.

  • The bespoke lightboxes & associated light poles provide ample lighting to ensure public safety. The design provides for 'passive surveillance' from overlooking buildings, encouraging community stewardship of the area. To avoid a space dominated by signage & bollards, we utilised a combination of consistent materials & terraced level changes to deliver a 'shared' space. There is no discernible change in materiality between the 'pedestrian only' & 'pedestrian & vehicle' areas, but the areas available for cars is still clear. All statutory regulations are met & the park is wheelchair accessible.

  • Respect for the environment is inherent in the transformation of previously hard, impervious surfaces into areas of grass & greenery, with a strong emphasis on the use of native plant species. It is also demonstrated through the retention of a number of existing mature trees which contribute strongly to the amenity & attractiveness of the space.

    Richmond Terrace Park was a finalist in the national 2015 Think Brick Awards and also received a design award at the 2015 Victorian AILA Awards. Whilst large garden beds with drought-resistant, low maintenance native plant species were introduced to the concept plan & final design of Richmond Terrace Pocket Park, large, existing trees were incorporated into the scheme. This was to provide shade during summer & a sense of a fully established park, right from the moment of completion that could not be achieved with the introduction of new saplings. The interlocking paving design, polychromatic brickwork, bespoke & multipurpose lightboxes are reflective & in subtle recognition of adjacent heritage buildings

    The project responds to the value attributed to this space by the client & the local community, as a neighbourhood gathering & recreational space rather than its previous condition as a low traffic volume roadway. The park provides much-needed green, open space in a densely-populated area where access to parkland in close proximity to residents was scarce. By providing validation of the local community's 'preferred role' for the space, the design enables them to not just utilise the space in the manner they desired, but to do so in a high-amenity, visually stimulating setting. It has been transformed from a nondescript low-volume traffic thoroughfare to a vibrant & attractive community meeting place.

    Obvious materials such as bluestone & asphalt were avoided to demonstrate the ability for a space to be both in strong visual contrast to its surrounds yet still communicate a clear & tangible contextual response. The bespoke lightboxes not only illuminate the area, creating an intimate atmosphere without compromising a sense of safety, also serve as additional seating. The robust, vandal resistant light poles provide low energy, multidirectional overhead light. The park is potentially an exemplar project, encouraging other local authorities to reconsider the role of streets in inner-urban areas where car ownership is becoming less necessary & access to well-designed outdoor space is more desirable.