Friedlander Place has taken a once forgotten piece of the urban fabric, transforming it into a community centerpiece. With the CBD of St Leonards undergoing rapid change due to the new Crows Nest Metro station and increase in high density development, this new public space is a key piece in linking the new and existing precincts. Not only does it provide connections for residents and workers, but it has also become a destination where people linger over a coffee, pick up groceries, walk their dogs while children enjoy the urban play space or active recreation in outdoor gym.

Now a generous plaza on the Pacific Highway, the open street interface establishes an iconic site identity, inviting passers-by to mingle with local residents and workers within a dynamic public space. The original Friedlander Place, situated alongside commercial and retail developments on the Pacific Highway, was a dark, unwelcoming space with no solar or visual access.

Friedlander Place is the first open space project to be delivered a strategy to support the transition of St Leonards as it’s residential and commercial population increases. With growth comes a change in requirements and the need to address an undersupply of public open space and infrastructure.
The plaza is an innovative example the new urban character of St Leonards, showcasing how its multiple microclimate zones soften the harsh urban environment, facilitating safe pedestrian access to all areas in a space where people can relax, gather and be enriched by art, water and nature.

Linking two mixed use developments, Friedlander Place has improved physical connections and enhanced the visual amenity of the Pacific Highway frontage and streetscape, increasing pedestrian comfort and introducing natural visual relief into the comparatively hostile urban environment. To create a unique but contextual character for Friedlander Place, the spaces and detailed elements draw upon the rich tapestry of the Sydney Basin, from the rugged coastal riverside, creek lines, gullies and sandstone ridgetops, from the great escarpment to the shores of the harbour, using the sandstone and an Indigenous planting strategy.

The public domain space offers a range of site-specific installations including a children’s playground and accessible water play, public art, seating elements, shade and fitness equipment, with rest and respite offered to residents, workers and visitors. The level change between Friedlander Place and Christie Street is addressed with the provision of vertical transportation connecting people to the Christie Street residential precinct.

Turfed embankments complemented with sandstone platforms and nooks introduce elevated landforms into Friedlander Place, an interpretation of the sandstone erosion of the ridgeline and gullies, creating new opportunities for play, discovery and interpretation of Country.

Using the narrative of the leaf curling spider, an eye-catching play structure is popular with residents, and visitors to the space. The playground, along with the ping pong table, shade structures and gym equipment, uses the inbuilt patterns of the leaf and the unique shapes of spider legs to create beautiful elements that talk to each other in the space.

A range of seating elements contribute to the public domain urban environment. A combination of sandstone, formed concrete and hardwood timber provides robust, durable and attractive settings, connecting users with the Lane Cove bushland and coastal fringe.

A public art strategy helps create a site identity for Friedlander Place with a Phil Price kinetic tree sculpture at the gateway of the plaza. Friedlander Place provides space for gathering and circulation in a constrained site, so the artwork is integrated into the ground plane to enhance human use of the space. Art elements are also present in the leaf pattern of the shade structures and an artistic wind break and site signage elevated into the seating design at the open face of the plaza.

The increased greenery and shade, with planting inspired by Lane Cove National Park, helps alleviate the urban heat island effect in a densely populated area, while the extension of the bushland into the urban environment, provides opportunity for residents to take time to connect with nature and its natural systems.

The reincarnation is public space that will provide a diversity of opportunities to interact with each other and with the urban environment in which they live and work.

Location: 500 Pacific Highway, St Leonards NSW Australia

Design year:2015

Year Completed:2021


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