2014 Melbourne Design Awards

Saving Parkville [DRAFT]

Image Credit : all images are the copyright of Atelier Red + Black in collaboration with Safety Net and Lexie Dealehr



Project Overview

On 30th June 2014, Planning Minister Matthew Guy MP announced that he had granted the permits necessary for the construction of Stage 1 of the East West Link project, which will connect the Eastern Freeway to CityLink with a further connection to the ports.

With the community of West Parkville set to suffer some of the worst impacts of this project, the community group Safety Net took it upon themselves to develop an alternative which could facilitate the State's requirements whilst also treading lightly on the local environment. Atelier Red + Black provided pro-bono design services to resolve the issues around the urban design and shape the project to be as sensitive to the the surrounding context as possible.
The outcome is a solution which minimizes the environmental damage to Royal Park and would save 55 homes from destruction. Careful attention has been given to integrate the new infrastructure with the iconic Melbourne Gateway.

Project Commissioner

Safety Net

Project Creator

Atelier Red + Black


Atelier Red + Black
Sonia Sarangi + Michael Smith

Safety Net
Anthony Peyton

special thanks to Lexie Dealehr for 3D Modeling assistance with the base model

Project Brief

Melbourne is one of the world's most liveable cities and part of the reason why it is included in the Design100 community. It is only through good Urban Design over many generations that we are able to create great cities in the first place. Our city cannot afford Urban Design disasters that blight the legacy we will leave for future generations.

"Status quo, you know, is Latin for 'the mess we're in' " – Ronald Reagan.
We aim to encourage each Melbournian to challenge the status quo of the Government's original design and shape one of our largest public projects. Atelier Red+Black firmly believes that Architecture is for Everyone.

Our brief was essentially three-fold:
• Save Royal Park: one of our city’s best public spaces.
• Avoid the impacts to (inner-city suburb) Parkville : including 55 homes + community infrastructure.
• Integrate the new infrastructure as sensitively as possible within the iconic Melbourne Gateway and the neighbourhood wetlands behind the sound barrier.

Project Innovation/Need

The city and its infrastructure are two separate things. Right?

Wrong. As the world’s population increasingly lives in cities we can no longer afford to subscribe to this mindset.

The proposal's innovative aspects include:

• Realignment of the proposed tunnel and relocation of the tunnel portal such that Ross Straw Field and the White’s Skink habitat remain in their current state for the community to enjoy
• This realignment eliminates the need to acquire and demolish 55 homes
• The design proposal integrates access to and from Flemington Road, eliminating the need to take further public land out of Royal Park
• Making a minor relocation of the Melbourne Gateway ‘cheese stick’ and an adjustment to the sound barriers. This allows the new connections to be made in a recessive manner which respects the strong architecture of the iconic Denton Corker Marshall composition.

Urban Design shouldn't be an afterthought, but a key part of the solutions. The community needs a better solution to that currently proposed which will enable the suburb of West Parkville to remain as a viable inner city community.

Design Challenge

The most crucial design challenge this project overcame was the sensitive integration of the infrastructure into the existing environment. This is broadly broken into the two interfaces of the project.
Firstly this project sits within a local residential neighborhood which is ill suited to major road infrastructure. Our proposed redesign isolates the visible intervention and keeps the proposed flyovers at the lowest feasible height possible. Within the impacted wetlands are a series of sculptural elements defining the tunnel portal reduces the visual interference that would otherwise be imposed.
The second critical interface is with the iconic Melbourne Gateway. Every effort was taken to ensure that this important piece of design remains the bold entry it was intended to be. The new flyovers have a recessive quality that will not detract from the bright colours and strong forms of the Denton Corker Marshall landmark.
The ongoing challenge will be to influence the key decision makers that this feasible and highly preferable option could be implemented into reality. This has involved both public media engagement and private consultations with various government departments, authorities and politicians


The East West Link in itself is not a sustainable project. Increasing the reliance upon petrol and diesel vehicles via building more roads is a step backwards. Ideally we should be making a greater investment in public transport to provide an adequate system for the community to use. Unfortunately given the political intransigence, it has been left to the community to advocate for a better design which respects our natural environment to a far greater degree.
One of the biggest winners under the proposed alternative scheme are the White's Skinks that are thriving in the dedicated reserved habitat in Royal Park. Under the proposed alternative their habitat will remain fully intact. The long term design would also allow for the full reinstatement of the local wetlands East of Oak Street and the partial reinstatement of the western wetlands. The long term design would also retain the green spaces associated with Ross Straw Field
The inclusion of a Flemington road access at the Parkville portal will also eliminate the need to make further road connections and tunnel portals in Royal Park.

This award celebrates the design process and product of planning, designing and constructing form, space and ambience that reflect functional, technical, social, and aesthetic considerations. Consideration given for material selection, technology, light and shadow. The project can be a concept, tender or personal project, i.e. proposed space.
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