University Square is a 1.5 hectare park on the south side of Grattan Street, Carlton. It contained an underground car park, a plaza and a park which was largely grass and elm trees. The square was under-utilised given its location, size and adjacent activities.
The University of Melbourne commissioned Alexander Urbanism to:
help establish a University-wide view on desirable improvements to the site
assist the park’s owner (the City of Melbourne) to understand how the square could best be redeveloped to serve its potential users, especially the University, and
understand how the University might assist in advancing the square’s redevelopment.
The University believed the square could be used much better by students, faculty and the general public. The University also believed a revamped square with intense public use could become an excellent ‘front yard’ to the University, helping to welcome the public to it.
The park had the potential to extend to the front fences of the properties in Barry, Leicester and Pelham Streets; this would more than double the park’s size. Because the park had largely senescent trees, lacked many heritage elements and lacked established user groups, the site was largely a blank canvas. It had great potential for total redevelopment to create a vibrant well-loved and very well used public space.
Our role during this project was to recommend how the space could be best used and the attributes it would need to take it from being a space into a place. We suggested twenty spatial strategies.
The City of Melbourne is currently redeveloping the square, with completion expected by 2020. Many of the strategies we proposed have been adopted, including expanding the park into the surrounding streets.