– Delivering a significant piece of public infrastructure as part of a broader urban renewal project, through engagement with current communities and in anticipation of future communities, countering the perception of Docklands as windswept and unfriendly.
– Victoria Harbour is a developing inner urban mixed use precinct. It stands at the vanguard of private-public partnership models of urban development. While the origins of the Docklands urban experiment have received criticism, the emerging precincts have been designed more closely with government agencies and the community to create quality and healthy additions to the city.
– The project took as its starting point the value of public open space, and the importance of establishing a sense of place to help build community.
– Buluk Park is destinational, operating successfully as both a city park, urban playspace and local neighbourhood space.
– The adjacent Temporary Activation Strategy Park is a highly strategic, temporary pop up park that combines active recreational use with site sourced material re-use. Located at a key nodal point in Victoria Harbour’s recreational loop it meets the active and passive recreational needs of the mixed business and residential communities, combining an outdoor public fitness centre, running track, basketball court and dog park.
– The parks combine to provide an activated ground plane for public art, interpretation, wet and dry play, active and passive recreation, new streetscapes and a refurbished wharf.
– The park has become a vibrant anchor for the local community, workers and visitors to Docklands, enabling people to come together to explore, learn, participate and connect. The temporary activation park provides short-term resident and visitor use, building activation and repeat visitation.
– Bulk Park 4,000m2 + Temporary Activation Strategy Park 1,100m2
– Location: An extension to the west of Melbourne’s CBD.
– Buluk Park is strategically located at the heart of Victoria Harbour’s City Quarter at the confluence of the river and the harbour, supporting the external program of the new low storey Library at the Dock, Family Services Centre and Community Boating Hub – ameliorating winds from the north; with taller current and future residential developments to the east and south maximising solar access for the park.
– Our design was refined through the new urban strategies developed by the City of Melbourne, including the Urban Forest Strategy and the Docklands Public Realm Strategy. We worked collaboratively with the City of Melbourne as the final asset owner of the park to craft a highly functional and sustainable place.
– A large residential community, many of them dog owners inhabits the precinct in high rise apartments with limited access to outdoor space; the park offers them a central open space that provides opportunities for residents to interact and engage through recreational fitness, dog walking and play activities.
– Buluk Park is a place to laze in the sun, meet friends, hang out, and play. The unfenced play space is adjacent to a large expanse of lawn and framed by mature trees. The play space has been carefully sited, contributing to, not impacting on the high visual amenity of the broader space, providing lighting, drinking fountains, and extensive seating opportunities, and tables, with a spatial provision for a future potential park pavilion.
The play space promotes diversity of play combining a treed urban park setting with three play space zones: sensory play, water play and active play. The combination, variety, distribution and access to the elements provides diversity of experience.
– The design of the play space was inspired by traditional child’s play – cardboard boxes and cubby houses. The approximately 500m2 play space invites engagement, participation and exploration – from sensory, imaginary, adventure, and social play for children aged from 4 – 7 years old and 8 -12 years old.
– The playspaces cubby houses include a double slide, tunnels, clatter wheel, binoculars, crawl through panels, concrete sculptures/stroking stones, rung ladders, stairways, fire-poles, climbing walls, lattice and rubber bridges, mirrored hemispheres, blackboard panels, musical elements, dance chimes and sound tubes.
– The play space successfully combines expansive views with intimate spaces, dry and wet play, tactile and auditory elements, shelter and comfort, interior and exterior, prospect and refuge, adventure and repose. Proprietary elements and customised components combine with natural materials and bright colour, embedded in a verdant urban setting.
The elements successfully combine to create a rich continuous journey of diverse experiences, from stroking stones to dance chimes, reflective and drawing surfaces.
– Six separate water sources, with a shallow sculptural bowl, textured channels and brass deflectors. The water play channels have been sand blasted to provide slip resistance, with buttons ensuring that the jets and drinking fountains do not require fine motor skills to operate, the sound of the fountains and jets helping to orientate the children. Buluk Park water play is an opportunity for sensory engagement that is fun and easy to manipulate.
– The innovative aspect of the park’s playspace design is the successful combination of elements, providing opportunities for problem solving, development of spatial intelligence and dexterity, independent play, and considers differences in gender and equity of access.
– The Buluk Park play space design incorporates universal design principles seeking to minimise loneliness and exclusion, and encourage participation. It provides equivalent use, ensuring that the experience of the play space and park landscape have broad appeal, providing flexibility of use and can be enjoyed regardless of children’s sensory capacities. The play space is accessible from the street, with activities seamlessly connected. The elements were designed to be consistent with children’s intuitive expectations. Contrasting elements, play components, seats, and drinking fountains occur at low level, whilst the intimate play spaces enable parents and carers to support/engage in play.
– Environmental sustainability was integral to the design and development of Bulk Park including but not limited to:
– Maximising shade and solar access, the playspace nestled amongst super advanced 8m high broad canopy semi-deciduous trees, provide both shade and wind amelioration supported by an outer evergreen row of trees. The Library at The Dock was carefully located at the master planning stage to provide a buffer from wind, and shade to the northern section of the park. The cubby houses provide further protection from the elements.
– Whilst low reflective materials were carefully selected in terms of colour, composition and finish for both the ground plane and vertical structures.
– 1,000m2 of reclaimed timber from Victoria Harbour’s refurbished wharves for Buluk Park’s event decks and the library wharf;
– The play space cubby houses were constructed from Australian made timber panels without artificial glues, resins, formaldehydes or silica’s
– Colourful acrylics were used for their resistance to surface marks and scratching to maintain and extend the design life of the playspace;
– High quality components were specified to maximise longevity given the site’s proximity to the salt and brackish waters of the adjacent harbour and Yarra River;
– Non-toxic water based anti-graffiti sealants were applied where required;
– The implementation of the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Diversity Strategy
– Structural soils and contiguous soil volumes were incorporated into the substrate/substructure designs of the deck and adjacent streets for over 50 trees.
– Incorporation of green infrastructure & the successful implementation of an extensive suite of WSUD & bio-retention, stormwater detention and re-use.
– The park is irrigated using recycled water from a tank integrated below the lawn;
– Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) was incorporated into the street trees tree pit designs.
– Temporary Activation Strategy Park was designed creatively utilising recycled materials from the surrounding construction sites as well as other low cost materials, such as asphalt, paint and turf. In the event of the site’s future development, the fitness equipment and other elements can be easily relocated to other parts of the precinct.
– The masterplanning and design of Buluk Park saw the delivery of a tram stop and on road dedicated bike roads reducing the reliance on and provision of vehicle use and parking.
– The development of Buluk Park, and The Library at The Dock were in response to extensive community engagement and consultation. Temporality is explored through the re-incorporation of site sourced materials and the leaf change colour through the seasons. A new destination and reflection of a growing local community and culture.
– We used a biophilic design approach that directly, indirectly, or symbolically reflects our inherent human affinity for nature. As an urban playspace it provides children with invaluable direct experience of features of the natural environment (including daylight, plants, fauna and natural systems) and a landscape that connects to the culture and ecology of the locality and geographic area.
– The project’s name Bulk Park draws on the word buluk an Aboriginal language name meaning wetlands or marsh, chosen to reflect the pre-1750 (settlement) environment and reinforce the importance of language in acknowledging the longest continuous living culture in the world. Drawing on the site’s rich ecological and cultural history the water play channels evoke the Yarra River’s twisting course and the tidal fluctuations of both river and harbour. The water play draws heavily on the site’s harbour and riverside setting, the pre-canalised Yarra River, ephemerality and the city’s natural systems.
– Reclaimed timber from the adjacent refurbished wharves reinforces as sense of place acknowledging the site’s former use.
– ASPECT I OCULUS undertook the consultation and design development work to the approval of the joint partners, and collaboratively with Sally Smart on a significant new public art work. The Shadow Trees artwork inhabits the site creating new, shapes and spaces within it. In the words of the artist the “choreography of the trees… combine with other elements in the site, culminating in an architecture of interrelatedness… draw[ing] on metaphors and allusions… focused improvisation and the transposition of actions and meanings. The text etched into the bluestone paving beneath the tree and within the park’s bounding street is a poem commissioned to reflect ideas in the tree imagery and the site, its history and relationship to place, by writer and cultural historian Maria Tumarkin. The sculpture’s visibility is amplified at night through illumination via integrated lighting of the structure.
Entrant office name: ASPECT I OCULUS
Role of the entrant in the project: Lead designer – landscape architecture and urban design
Other design firms involved:
Client: Lend Lease
City of Melbourne
Places Victoria (now Development Victoria)
Public Artwork Lighting:
Write and Cultural Historian:
Play Space Auditor:
Australian Native Landscapes
Landscape & Irrigation Services (LIS)
Water fountain consultant:
NCA Water Features
International Fountain Australia
Morris Goding Access Consulting
City Quarter, Victoria Harbour Dockland, Melbourne, Australia