Hansen Partnership was engaged by Gannawarra Shire Council to prepare a landscape concept design and construction documentation for the Kerang township’s main activity district, Victoria Street. The goal of the project was to transform a space dominated by vehicle movement and car parking to a safe shared space for movement and enjoyment. The design and delivery of Victoria Square, Kerang has been realised over a lengthy period of urban strategic study, community participation and engagement and design investigation. Council recognised that the heritage forms, including the Post Office, Courthouse and Municipal building were significant structures and should be celebrated through a complementary concept design.
Hansen Partnership created a Concept Plan with the goal of reimagining the centre of this thriving regional town as a place of civic pride and community gathering. The Plan created a new public space supporting pedestrian priority, whilst displaying key architectural assets which are defining in the township.
Based on an appreciation of the township’s agricultural context, as well as the unique heritage civic buildings within the main street, the design concept was based on a rural farmhouse surrounded by paddocks. The fundamental elements of the design include a raised ‘verandah’ to the forecourt of the heritage buildings, significant paved area comprising an intricate pattern emphasising pedestrian desire lines, four anchoring grassed pods comprising vegetation and seating.
The new public space provides a modern, functional design accommodating additional shade, seating and safer pedestrian movement across Victoria Street. The quality construction heralds the urban renewal of this regional town.
• An elevated platform influenced by the concept of ‘the veranda’ connects the three stately civic buildings and provides an overview of the space. The threshold serves as the meeting place for various civic and municipal functions.
• An open flush pedestrian space framed by grassed seating pods and decks, shade structures and a key established Manna Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) of significance in the street view. These spaces reinforce the parallel movement regime to either side of Victoria Street.
• A centrally aligned cobbled ‘shared zone’ defines the union of pedestrian and (slowed) vehicle movement on the Victoria Street alignment, heralding a safe location for crossing carefully guided by lighting and shaping of adjoining pods.
Hansen Partnership’s subtle urban renewal approach to this streetscape project has been underpinned by awareness and sensitivity to ‘localness’, to celebrate the township’s identity whilst creating a public realm and improving pedestrian safety.
While this project may be perceived as a conventional metropolitan street management scheme, its demonstration and realisation in the context of north-west Victorian townships is meaningful in shifting attitudes in relation to public space and urban identity in regional Victoria.
The successful creation of an attractive new forecourt – has led to a change in the way people (residents and visitors alike) perceive and use the space.
Sustainability best practice is exemplified through:
• Furniture elements including custom timber benches utilising red gum timber sourced from within the municipality.
• Native drought tolerant plants chosen for resilience and long-term greening of the streetscape.
• Sculptural LED street lights, a key visual feature, also offer energy-efficient luminaires with optimum light distribution.
• Retention of the 100-year-old Manna Gum representing a key element of the regional native flora
• The Shire construction team used locally sourced materials, trades and expertise
• The design encourages residents and visitors to walk through the town centre, rather than rely on private vehicles to access services and facilities.
Quality of design:
The final construction of Victoria Square, Kerang provides highly desirable public space, bringing a small community together. The design and delivery have been realised over a lengthy period of urban strategic study, community participation and engagement and design investigation. Underpinned by precinct masterplan prepared by Terroir (2014).
The benefits of the pedestrian-oriented design at Kerang include, creating an engaging and lively place for people to spend time (to sit, to rest, to shop) while still allowing for vehicle movement at slower speeds to accommodate the safe crossing of pedestrians. This collectively encourages a sense of local identity and pride of place.
Through Victoria Street, Kerang, the Shire has created a paradigm shift in the way its people (residents and visitors alike) perceived and use the space.
Victoria Square, Kerang received a 2018 Victorian AILA Award of Excellence and a 2018 National AILA Landscape Architecture Award in the urban design categories.