On April 6, 2018, The University of Melbourne’s innovation precinct – known as Carlton Connect – received planning approval from the Victorian Government. The pedestrian friendly precinct, located on the site of the former Royal Women’s Hospital, connects the inner Melbourne suburb of Carlton with the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus. ASPECT Studios are leading the landscape architecture and public realm design, together with the design team from Woods Bagot and Hayball. ASPECT’s approach to the 74,000 sqm precinct through adaptively reuses of materials of the former Women’s Hospital visibly acknowledges the history of the site while showcasing innovative and Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD). A series of connected buildings arranged around a central and publicly-accessible open space – the Oculus – complete with vertical green “living louvres” that connect the Oculus with the upper floors as part of the visible ESD and infrastructure agenda of the precinct. Three laneways and a plaza, all with public urban furniture that functions as an intuitive wayfinding device to the central Oculus, connect pedestrians and cyclists with direct access to Swanston, Grattan and Cardigan streets. “The laneways create moments of curiosity, discovery, warmth, contemplation and occupation for those coming to Carlton Connect,” says ASPECT Studios landscape architect Terrence Stapleton. “We designed with the pedestrian at the forefront of our mind. Comprehensive site studies of wind and light ensure that the space is welcoming, social and inviting.” The public realm is enhanced by a range of fixed and loose outdoor furniture elements, power outlets and WI-FI to support working and studying outdoors. “Carlton Connect is a great example of cutting edge collaborative design where our advice and input as landscape architects is integral to the precinct as a whole,” explains Stapleton. “We’re informing a lot of the decisions. Our design for the public realm is responsible to every person using it; not just one user group.” Key to ASPECT’s collaboration and coordination between the client, architects, engineers, and other consultants has been through the use of present day Building Information Modelling (BIM). Allowing for design solutions to be solved faster than in traditional 2D modelling. The construction of Carlton Connect is expected to commence in mid-2018 for completion in 2020.
First Look at Melbourne’s Innovation Precinct