The historic and richly cultural Melbourne suburb of St Kilda has a vocal and passionate community. For our masterplan to be feasible, accepted and built, it was essential that St Kilda residents be involved in a genuine and collaborative way.
St Kilda Triangle is a small site fronting one of Melbourne’s busiest inner-suburban beaches. The surrounding streets are pumping with shops, cafés and venues, and Melbourne’s Luna Park is across the road. The site is currently used as a carpark.
Masterplanning it was not a task for architects wanting to prescribe what they thought the public should have. The core of our work on this high-profile site, therefore, was community consultation.
Architects from ARM took on the role of expert design leaders in a series of workshops where we presented initial options for the site. Then we met with a group of community representatives to actively workshop ideas. We came to sessions loaded with pens and butchers’ paper so we could sketch their suggestions on the spot. We brought sticky notes for them to record their comments.
These events allowed us to develop our ideas into a shortlist of propositions that we then brought to the community representatives for approval and workshopping. Next, a draft masterplan, focussing on built form and massing, was released to the entire community for comment.
The next round of community consultation concentrated on possible architectural and landscape qualities. In a series of workshops, we listened to community members communicating the people’s aspirations for the site, then guided them towards architecturally sound and buildable ways to realise those aspirations.
This process proved educational for us and for many members of St Kilda’s community. They grew their understanding of design considerations; we learned new and effective ways of collaborating with stakeholders—ways that elicited genuinely useful and informed input for our understanding and designs.
The masterplan sets out guidelines for development and ways to facilitate suitable proposals that meet those parameters. It may house a significant cultural destination and open public spaces.
Our St Kilda Triangle masterplan was adopted by the City of Port Phillip in March 2016 and is currently in active planning advocacy. We consider the project a triumph of community and stakeholder consultation.