One of Australia’s best places is right here in Midland – a once neglected and unsafe area that has been transformed into a dynamic urban square.
Once a run-down reserve, bordered by poorly maintained heritage buildings, Juniper Gardens now functions as a versatile community space surrounded by retail and entertainment outlets and offices, overlooked by Midland’s first inner-city apartments.
Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority A/Chief Executive Officer Veronica Jeffery said Juniper Gardens was a great place because it had the needs of the community at its core.
“Significant investment was made to improve amenity in the area, focusing on striking public art, high quality streetscapes, good lighting and attractive landscaping featuring local native plantings and mature shade trees,” she said.
“The Gardens also feature a stage, shade sails, orchestra shell, extensive low seating walls, picnic tables, water features and playful heritage interpretation in the form of a hopscotch game, all contributing to a unique sense of place.
“Juniper Gardens is designed for social interaction and entertainment, with events such lunchtime concerts, performances and arts and crafts market frequenting the space.”
Juniper Gardens was named after renowned local artist Robert Juniper AM, who created the iconic five-metre tall copper sculpture Tree Forms located in the heart of the Gardens.
Heritage buildings in the precinct have been creatively converted to form a new cultural heart, with a café and barista school, micro-brewery, restaurant and community arts centre all occupying the former Midland Junction Primary School buildings.
New mixed-use development around the Gardens of up to four-storeys - with retail/commercial on the ground floor and apartments above - has added urban intensity and vibrancy to the area while protecting amenity and heritage values.
“Juniper Gardens was a demonstration project for higher density, contemporary mixed-use living in the area. It has been warmly accepted by the community and serves as a good example of what can be achieved elsewhere throughout the wider metropolitan area,” Ms Jeffery said.
The judges acknowledged Juniper Gardens as being “inviting for all who use it, well-connected, overlooked by new infill development and pedestrian in scale. Adopted by the local community as a great place to be, it is an advertisement for creating character that is organic, rather than manufactured.”
Juniper Gardens faced strong competition from around Australia to take out the award. Other nominees in the category included Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Central Market Precinct Adelaide and the Flinders Street Redevelopment Townsville.