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The New History of Acland Street, St Kilda

“Every success is the sum of all its parts.” – James Stirton, Precinct Director, CoPP”

An alliance between the City of Port Phillip, Public Transport Victoria and Yarra Trams has resulted in an urban streetscape redevelopment that has transformed the look and feel of the popular Acland Street precinct in St Kilda, Melbourne, whilst also retaining the distinct historical and cultural values of the St Kilda area.

Entrusted with the significant task of conceptualising a new streetscape design that stayed true to the spirit and rich history of Acland Street and yet breathed new life into the much-loved shopping strip were BKK Architects and McGregor Coxall Landscape Architects. Although expectations were high, the opportunity for out-of-the-box creativity was welcomed by the design team. “The high ambitions of CoPP, PTV and Yarra Trams enabled [us] to push boundaries.” – Christian Borchert, McGregor Coxall.

BKK and McGregor Coxall proposed a bold and vibrant pattern of large Australian bluestone circles interspersed with custom precast concrete keystones, providing the sense of celebration that St Kilda is known for.

Local manufacturers Bamstone Bluestone and Anston Architectural were engaged to work closely with the design team to create the custom paving and furniture products for the streetscape upgrade. Both paving and furniture needed to be aesthetically pleasing, extremely durable and compliant with strict Council regulations for MPA, slip resistance and DDA compliance.

With looming deadlines and the obligation to minimise disruption caused to the bustling shopping and eating hub, the success of the Acland Street Redevelopment depended upon collaboration between multiple parties, all with competing interests: architects, government, engineers, Council, manufacturers and installers.

The fact that both Anston and Bamstone are local manufacturers proved to be a major advantage in the design and planning stages, when multiple prototypes needed to be produced at short notice to ensure the design team could assess each component’s compatibility within the streetscape structure as a whole. “The collaboration with suppliers such as Anston and Bamstone was unprecedented for us, enabling the design team to develop a rather unconventional pavement method in the inappropriately short time line.” – Christian Borchert, McGregor Coxall.

There was no room for error in a project of this significance to the local community, and yet there was limited time to deliberate on each design component. “Both the complicated nature of the project and the very tight program meant that collaboration between all parties was paramount to the design process.” – Vaughan Cockburn, BKK Architects.

The resulting streetscape is a reflection of the Council’s dedication to upholding the individuality of St Kilda, with most of the design elements created from scratch to match the design brief. “Everything in Acland Street is custom – ranging from iconic shelters, furniture suite and tram terminus to the intricate paving design and paving units. Increased pedestrian areas, additional footpath trading spaces and public plaza allows all members of the community to program, occupy and formalise the renewed Acland Street, celebrating what the street means to the present community and embracing what the future holds.” – James Stirton, CoPP

Anston is honoured to have played a role in the new history of St Kilda. “The success of the Acland Street redevelopment lies in the vision and creativity of the design team, the preparedness of the stakeholders to think outside the square and the versatility of our in-house engineering team to design and produce a product that turned their vision into reality.” – Bruce Grogan, Anston Architectural

The Acland Street Redevelopment was photographed by Dean Bradley.

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