The Creme de la Creme - Cremorne2025

Last week saw the release of the State Government's strategy for Melbourne's future growth through to 2050, simply called 'Plan Melbourne.' The plan identifies key areas for future growth in the form of National Employment Clusters, Activity Centres (Metropolitan and Regional) and various Urban Renewal Projects at the CBD's doorstep.

One such project is East Richmond Station/Cremorne, originally mooted in the now defunct Melbourne 2030 plan, it brings us to the subject of today's article - Cremorne 2025, an urban design studio run by MADA investigating and addressing a broad range of current and future challenges for facilitating population growth future within urban renewal projects as well as the implications for established centres like the city of Melbourne. Put simply the idea of building up within the existing urban fabric of inner city suburbs rather than building out into rural areas. 

"The studio’s aim is to achieve visibility and to instigate wider public discussions concerning current and future challenges of growing cities. We want to inform the public beyond the borders of the academic world and the discipline."

As the website states, not many people are actually aware of Cremorne's existence, wrongly attributing it as Richmond, partly because up until 1999 it was a locality within Richmond. It's best characterized as an industrial zone, sprinkled with the odd low-rise residential (Floor Area Ratio of 0.95), with its most distinguishable features and landmarks being the various roof forms of the old red brick warehouses, the Nylex sign atop the old malting storage silos, as well as the more recent addition of Deal Corp's ERA apartments, an 11-storey complex designed by Plus Architecture.

The studio proposes a Four Phase strategy for the area with the most intense and highest density development occurring at East Richmond Station, towards the centre of the site and straddling the M1 freeway adjacent to the Yarra River and the re-establishment of Cremorne Station which existed north of Balmain Street from 1859 until 1864. It also investigates various scenarios of adaptive re-use for the silos, warehouses and terraces through 'injecting' program into the existing shells or adding on top of or laterally to.

The studio tests various FAR densities and building scales (between 1-30 storeys & 4-44 storeys) and attempts to improve and distribute the mix of program throughout the precinct a bit more evenly, resulting in a greater level of activity and street life at all hours of the day. 

The lack of open space and underutilised open space is addressed with the introduction of linear & pocket parks, beautified pedestrian routes and other forms of open space within the body of the area and larger open space below the M1 as part of a new Northbank precinct as well as new connections over Punt Road through to Gosch's Paddock and Olympic Park beyond.

Beyond the master plan, groups of students investigate the possibilities of various new villages and precincts - moving from a macro scale study to a more micro - exploring how these new 'villages' and streets might one day look and how people might navigate the streets based on research into existing pedestrian and vehicular movement patterns throughout the study area and supplementing these with additional modes of transport such as rail and river ferry.  

Overall the studio's research-driven proposition is a mature and well considered response to the principles and objectives of Melbourne 2030 & its successor Plan Melbourne - increased density within an area rich in built history that does not compromise its neighbourhood character in paving the way for future growth - a good balance of new & old, anchored by the idea of adaptive re-use. Cremorne2025 doesn't become a suburb dominated by high-rise and nor is it over developed - the higher density zones are generally located around transport corridors. It offers various residential typologies appealing to all aspects of the market and considers the commercial realities of concepts such as building over the freeway - which may seem questionable from a planning point of view but allows for the development of new public space, offsetting the negative impacts of overshadowing the Yarra and the southern bank.

There are some fantastic ideas that are articulated very well through simple but effective diagrams and supporting imagery so I would highly recommend taking the time out to sift through and absorb all the information - I could try and summarise it all but I don't believe I would do it any justice as I think the work produced is really worth appreciating.

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