Here at Urban Melbourne we consider Anstey precinct in Brunswick to be the vanguard in terms of middle-ring, higher density urban regeneration. Wedged between the Upfield rail line and Sydney Road, the area until recently was dominated by low-rise industrial premises.
Anstey was subject to two articles on Urban Melbourne last year: "Anstey in Development" and "This little piggy went to market (on his fixie)". While both articles were supportive of the areas higher density path, questions were raised over the distinct lack of associated greenery and street level activity.
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.Mark Baljak, "Anstey in Development" (May 14, 2013)
Enter a game-changing current planning application covering both sides of Duckett Street within the precinct.
With two unusually shaped development sites on offer, MOS Architects have elected to utilise the space between both with a new urban piazza over Duckett Street. Pedestrian and car movements have been separated, active frontages and high site permeability included, green walls incorporated while building setbacks from the Upfield bike path creating a sense of widening.
The piazza is integral to the success of this development. We identified our subject site as a significant contributor to the high quality emerging developments within the close proximity. Integration with the existing shared Upfield path is established as the site opens up to this path, promoting alternative movements and significant pedestrian activity.MOS Architects
Breese Street being the main thoroughfare through Anstey is little more than a transitional way at the moment; upon leaving your dwelling, you either walk or drive elsewhere. Not necessarily the worst outcome at this moment, but as more projects are completed/proposed, the population will eventually reach a point where this becomes unacceptable.
MOS Architects assert within the application that 12 Duckett Street will be a great place to work, live and experience. The firm has given heavy credence to retail/dining along an otherwise desolate cycling path with approximately 80 metres of active frontage, while also implementing two large first floor tenancies either side of Duckett Street fronting the path. Essentially dual/tri level glazed/open, active tenancies to the train line. Interesting!
As for the intended public realm landscaping, if the below examples provided within the report are anything to go by, they will be a quantum leap forward over anything currently provided within Anstey precinct. As MOS Architects state - and as is the case elsewhere - generous landscape design allows for a significant greenery to soften the sometimes harsh urban environment and make for a more pleasant external space.
This planning application looks to be a panacea of sorts for Anstey precinct; it could be argued that 12 Duckett Street ticks many boxes that have been neglected to date by many developments in the area, leading me to liken Anstey to a little Southbank.
Ultimately though it shouldn't be in the hands of the developer/architect to create these spaces of their own volition, but rather adhere to a well formulated green/structure plan devised by Council. If every high-density project within Anstey delivered a little of what 12 Duckett proposes, the area would be the benchmark for urban renewal.
In due course Urban Melbourne will take a pictorial tour of Anstey precinct, highlighting its hits and misses, and why 12 Duckett Street is so important.