Perth is set to embrace an international urban development trend being hailed as the answer to the City's 'dullsville' tag.
Works on the Centro North redevelopment on the corner of Station Street and Salvado Road
This fresh approach to urban design was introduced in Perth earlier this year when the East Perth and Subiaco Redevelopment Authorities (SRA) invited PPS President Fred Kent to lead a series of workshops with industry professionals to demonstrate how clever design of public space can make or break a development of any kind.
The PPS "place making" approach is also being used in the transformation of the Perth Cultural Centre Precinct, as part of the revitalisation plans recently announced by Planning Minister John Day.
According to Director of TPG Town Planning & Urban Design, Andrew Howe, embracing this philosophy represents a significant step for Perth’s development.
Mr Howe has been involved in developing plans for the Australian Fine China (AFC) redevelopment in Subiaco, which, like Centro North, also embraces the principals of 'place making'.
"Place making is playing an important role in economically and socially successful developments around the world, creating spaces that draw people in to interact with their surrounds," Mr Howe said.
"The concept of place making is part of a multi-dimensional answer to enlivening Perth’s public places and streets.
"Of course, the design component must be combined with attracting the right uses (think cafes and shops) to the space, and a willingness and desire by people to use these spaces. When these elements come together, we will hopefully see the culture of Perth change from one where people are most happy at home in their lounge room, into one where friends and family go out and interact with the wider community in their leisure time," Mr Howe said.
Now this new thinking has been applied to plans for the SRA's Centro North project - the first of many projects in Perth to be designed based on Kent's 'place making' principles.
The Centro North project team have worked to incorporate this thinking into plans for the redevelopment and the result will be something for the whole Subiaco community to enjoy.
Situated on a major thoroughfare between Subiaco train station and St John of God Hospital, Centro North will provide an ideal tree-lined pedestrian environment, with spaces for alfresco dining, children's play and quiet reflection.
The development features an urban plaza, similar to those seen in European communities, with innovative furniture and public art that encourages people to interact with each other and the environment, including a long lunch table and pivot seats to allow for flexible social arrangements. A pocket park will be tucked away from the areas of main activity providing a place for people wanting to escape the hustle and bustle.
Similar works are set to start soon as part of the Perth Cultural Centre Precinct transformation, the plans include new café areas, performance spaces, more seating and shade, big screen entertainment upgrades and incorporation of free wireless internet and public art.
Mr Howe said that while the idea of creating places that draw people in is not new, there has been an increasing focus on the importance in the wider design picture.
"Where in the past, public space was designed around surrounding buildings, these new developments – both the public space and the buildings – have been designed to serve the people that use them," Mr Howe said.
"When you look at Subiaco, a large part of the attraction is the series of comfortable character areas linked together across the suburb that cater to the community's needs.
"Throughout the Subi Centro project the SRA and its project teams have been careful to ensure that each community is created with areas of public domain that add to the quality of life of residents, workers and visitors – which is a big part of the reason why Subiaco is one of the best suburbs in Perth," Mr Howe said.
"However since taking on the concepts introduced by Fred Kent through the PPS workshops we have been able to step this up and we’re confident these new spaces will set a benchmark for Perth."
These same place making concepts are now being applied to projects throughout Perth, including the rejuvenation of the Perth Cultural Centre being managed by EPRA.