As a follow-up piece to my recent Anstey in Colour piece, today we'll dissect the growing number of apartment buildings surrounding Anstey Station and the subsequent change in the area's urban character. Below the reader will find more questions than answers, designed to provoke thought more than anything else.
Firstly though a brief outline of the area's recent and ongoing renewal into an apartment enclave.
View Anstey in Development in a larger map
Completed (Yellow) Under construction (Red) At sales (Green)
32 Breese Street 4 west street - Westside Apartments
28 Breese Street 8 Hope Street Impending development (Purple)
3 Florence Street 26 Breese Street
208 Albion street 16 Hope Street
Revisiting Anstey in Colour, I noted that light industrial inner city areas such as Anstey are ripe for higher density apartment living. Sandwiched between Sydney Road and the Upfield rail line in an already highly desirable area to live, Anstey is dominated by single level factories and presents a golden opportunity to implement a sustainable higher density outcome while still being sympathetic to the area's urban character.
Currently the area has a very much unscripted feel about it. Florence and Breese Street below typifies the contrast of older dwellings heavy with charm and newer, albeit far more sterile apartment complexes. Given these new developments carry little of no retail offering and seemingly shun street activity, the average passer-by is left with little to no stimulus.
The under construction Westside Apartments (below Left) is very much symptomatic of the new wave of apartment developments in the area. A small block leads to full site utilisation with little room for other features or meaningful street activation. Aesthetically OK when viewed in isolation, the issue arises when multiple versions of developments such as Westside meet wall to wall and maintain the same lack of street level acknowledgement.
Enter the current eastern side of Breese Street (below right). The sum of the whole seems to be a far worse outcome than what each development brings in isolation. No setbacks, narrow footpaths, wide roads (in parts) and no street level activation - is smart urban design present here?
What could have been achieved though with minor changes at minimal expense? The image below shows the Anstey Square redevelopment with 10-12 Breese Street to its right. Simple changes or Council clauses could have been incorporated during the design and approval process to make this a far superior outcome to what was built in recent years.
Given the areas impressive catalogue of street art which will diminish over time as more sites are developed, the precast panels for instance facing Breese Street would have represented a perfect opportunity to allocate each panel to an artist for a tasteful mural, possibly recognising the site or the immediate area's history. This would have brought vibrancy and an element of interest to the street scape.
7 Florence Street aside, the lack of incorporated greenery through these new apartment developments is highly noticeable. Coupled with an already desolate streetscape, these new apartment developments add very little greenery resulting in a somewhat hostile environment at ground level. Creepers over the fence line or vertical gardens heading up the buildings precast concrete elements would have provided immense urban returns for minimal outlay. And what of simple fixed planter boxes along the roof line of these buildings?
Where does City of Moreland stand in this? This area demonstrates rapid-fire development without a cohesive, overarching structure plan. It may well have one, but if it does it's average at best. Herein lies the worth of development structure plans, height limits aside they should seek to enrich the urban character of an area, to make an area better than what is was prior . Is it worth Council imposing a minimal levy per every apartment sold from this point on in order to fund improvement works? Simple and relatively cheap options such as removing every fifth parallel carpark and replacing those spaces with water sensitive raised garden beds doubling as seating allows the built form to be broken up, increases amenity/shade and a provides place for individuals to congregate and interact.
Ultimately the purpose of this article is to portray the notion that minor changes, even retrospectively can lead to major urban gains. Anstey Station's surrounds still has tremendous scope for development, here's hoping that's matched with an shift in attitudes by developers, architects and council alike.
To that end Laurence will reveal a spectacular Blockhead concept for the redevelopment of Brunswick Market tomorrow. Central to the Anstey area and the primary driver in attracting people traffic through the immediate area, the concept will try to balance commercial realities with heightened environmental, urban and design principles.
Further images of Anstey below