Six Degree's Mark Healy talks Riverside Quay

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Six Degree's Mark Healy talks Riverside Quay

A new retail and dining precinct at Riverside Quay in Melbourne recently opened as part of Mirvac's revitalisation of the precinct, following the completion of 2 Riverside Quay.

The culinary precinct now comprises 10 new eateries located along the ground plane of Riverside Quay’s four commercial buildings. According to Mirvac, the existing Southbank Promenade restaurants together with the new retailers will create "an enhanced, vibrant food and beverage offering, emulating the ambience and buzz of Melbourne’s famous laneways."

Six Degrees Architects was engaged by Mirvac to assist in the revitalisation of Riverside Quay, with McGregor Coxall responsible for designing the public park, working in tandem with City of Melbourne. The project involved various stages of analysis and design including the production of a series of studies and feasibility reports along with a detailed set of design guidelines for future retail tenants.

Urban.com.au spoke with Mark Healy, Director at Six Degrees regarding the office's design strategy for revitalising the public realm.

Six Degree's Mark Healy talks Riverside Quay
A revitalised Riverside Quay. Image: Supplied

Urban.com.au: What was the brief from Mirvac for revitalising the precinct and how did you approach the site? Who were the intended users? Office workers? Residents?

Mark Healy: Six Degrees’ approach was to bring the ‘Melbourne laneway culture’ across the Yarra to Southbank. The spaces between the buildings of Riverside Quay were reimagined as laneways with small scale ‘fine grain’ tenancies activating the ground plane. Each of the new tenancies were designed with different personalities reflecting the evolution of Melbourne’s laneways. - to capture some of the character found along Melbourne laneways. The positioning of the new foyer entries in convenient  pedestrian locations also reinforced the activation of the laneways. Riverside Quay is a dynamic retail precinct that has become a destination in its own right. It not only caters for the local residents and office workers, but is now bringing people across the river. Mirvac were incredibly supportive of the design.

U: Could you describe the process and collaborating with the City of Melbourne on the new space?

MH: with a lot of our urban design work, the planners at City of Melbourne were very supportive of the strategy. This project is comprised of many small projects, or many small decisions, which gradually accumulate and create significant change. This is exactly what Rob Adams and his excellent team have been doing in the CBD for the past 30 years.

U: What were some of the challenges with the site, noting the new park sits to the south of the commercial buildings so solar access in winter is limited?

MH: The north-south orientation of the laneways gives direct sunlight during lunchtime hours in a similar way to Melbourne’s most famous lanes like Centreway and Degraves. The buildings to the south of the park are well placed to bounce light down to the public realm below. This is especially important during Melbourne’s cold and grey winter months when solar access to the ground is limited.

U: What were some of the opportunities the site presented?

MH: The larger space between buildings 1 & 2 (1 Southbank Blvd & 4 Riverside Quay) allowed for a small square or “piazza” to be created where we were able to place a mature tree and permanent shade structures as a focus to the tenancies that surround it.

U: It can be argued that Southbank is lacking in quality open space, although this is starting to be addressed. How does the public realm at Riverside Quay tie into the emerging public realm within Southbank? 

MH: We wanted to give the pedestrian experience of discovery that Melbourne laneways offer. The new park, designed by McGregor Coxall, is a very welcome addition to this area of Southbank.  

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