Blueprint for a better Arts Precinct

It was conceived during 2011 and still meanders on today. Released last month was an interim update surrounding the Melbourne Arts Precinct Blueprint which principally concerns itself with:

A connected Arts Precinct that is a must-see part of Melbourne, known for its distinctive character and vibrant arts experiences.

The Blueprint sets out a range of strategies to achieve this vision, grouped around four themes - bring life to the streets, create a ‘Melbourne’ experience, more to see and do, and make connections. These strategies propose a range of actions to bring the dynamism and creativity of the Arts Precinct’s artistic community out into the streets.

In and amongst the 55 page document are some telling faults identified with the Arts Precinct. Inward-looking buildings (NGV being a prime example), a general lack of street life, poor shared identity for the precinct and urban barriers such as CityLink all combine to make the Arts Precinct a less than ideal area to traverse by foot. This in turn negates activity and interaction.

To mitigate these negatives highlighted within the Blueprint, four key topics have been identified as areas to address. Bringing life to the streets, creating a Melbourne experience, more to see and do plus making connections are the four headline aspirations. They all sound very rosy, yet how will these four aspirations if implemented correctly transform the area?

Below is a set of before and after images which depict a more user friendly Arts Precinct. The public realm looks to have been transformed from one large monotonous setting into a series of far smaller, finer grain experiences where choice of amenity is king. Drawing a parallel so some of the CBD's laneways there seems to be a mass of smaller, dynamic venues destined for the Arts Precinct.

This in turn promotes intimacy, interest and spontaneity in the area...and above all increased use.

Accumulated before and after concept images for the precinct. Image courtesy City of Melbourne

As promising as the above images are the Blueprint notes that an Arts Precinct Public Realm Plan is to be developed, with further discussions held during 2014-2015.

Committees, agendas, meetings and working parties - without putting too fine a point on the issue, the Arts Precinct and Southbank at large are in dire need of such a plan so hurry it up people!

See the full Blueprint here.

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