A green jewel in Melbourne’s regenerating Docklands district, NewQuay Central Park consciously breaks from the area’s formal, linear, polished spaces to offer an assertion of wind and water in a pre-settlement landscape that connects people to a more fundamental sense of place.

NewQuay Central Park envelops the new Banksia Apartments building in terraces and shading eddies of biodiverse and indigenous planting. It connects Waterfront Drive to the NewQuay promenade, accommodates the adjacent retail spaces and delivers an economical outcome on a technically challenging carpark podium.

The flowing form of the landscape connects the surrounding buildings with the streetscape, and can accommodate a range of activities, from small events to outdoor café seating.

The park eschews the standard forms of Dockland’s existing green spaces – it is non-formal, non-Eurocentric, non-linear. Its forms are inspired by the fluid dynamics of Docklands as a place of wind and water. Its materials bring a roughness to New Quay’s polish. It looks to a pre-settlement landscape to connect people to place in a powerful way.

This is also a design constrained by its physical structure, primarily the fact that it is a podium landscape over a carpark. Much of the planting was limited to grass, with deeper planting only possibly on the periphery, and any extension of green space south was limited by the New Quay promenade being cantilevered over water. Planting was further constrained by the Banksia Apartments tower, deep shade and strong salty winds. The planting scheme therefore lent into these constraints, embracing the windswept nature of the site with the use of hardy coastal plants that provide a unique and unusual natural scene.

New Quay Central Park also exerts a strong beneficial force on the surrounding precinct. It is a linking topography that connects the busy Docklands Drive with the waterfront, provides active edges to the adjacent retail spaces, is a front door and back yard to the Banksia Apartments, and provides an outdoor platform for community activities.

Terraces wrap the site and provide sheltered seating in discrete eddies of space under the trees. Feature gardens beds displaying colour and texture are interwoven within the terraces, and the park provides much needed green relief. Planting and sculpture mitigate the often-strong winds.

New Quay Central Park is a quality civic place that integrates the needs of its surrounding context and accommodates intimate social gatherings in a comfortable environment. It is a park suitable for everyday use by visitors and residents to gather, relax and enjoy the views. Informal play opportunities are provided by careful arrangement of nature play elements such as rock and logs.

New Quay Central Park asserts the need for a new type of green space and inserts itself into Docklands to reshape the cultural texture of the broader urban landscape. It responds to challenging physical conditions to meet strategic goals while delivering a robust and sophisticated civic space. It is a park for people, and an ambitious civic gesture in a part of Melbourne that can often seem reserved and unfriendly.

Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape: SAALA – collaborating Landscape Architects

Architecture offices involved in the design: MCR Architects, Sue Murphy horticultural design

Location: 425-441 Docklands Drive, Docklands, Victoria, Australia

Design year: 2014

Year Completed: 2018


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