The Vacancy Market
The Vacancy Market
Bridge Road is a linear aggregation of diverse frontages, activities and people. In its most elementary form it is part of a line that connects people and places, from the CBD at one end to Hawthorn and the outer suburbs at the other end. It is also a series of variegated spaces that align to compose an urban strip. Behind this ‘regulated’ urban strip lies a diverse range of laneways, backdoors, service yards, garages and car-parks which form a less regulated hinterland of opportunities. The combination of economic, social and cultural worlds associated with an urban high street establishes the context for our studio exploration of The Vacancy Market. Shopping is considered just one small part of a rich mix of activities including working, sharing, exchanging, waiting, eating, watching, playing and learning.
This duality of spatial complexity raises some fascinating opportunities when considering the heterogeneous coexistence of cultures in places like Melbourne. In contrast to the structure of the grid found at the heart of the CBD and behind the linear aggregation of diverse frontages that form a typical high street in Melbourne we can find an accidental landscape of leftover spaces, car parks service lanes and goods yards. The variations in use, combined with a diverse material palette with There is pressure on these hinterland spaces to accommodate future residential development and with this brings the risk of homogeneity of land use. These spaces already mediate a variety of uses around their edges (hospital /warehouse / workspace / house) yet the economics of development are forcing a singular idea for residential use over an opportunity to accommodate diversity. Just as the city is under pressure to accommodate higher densities and a globalized architecture of curtain walling there is a similar concern that these unique neighbourhoods are losing their distinctive local characters with an architectural and spatial language of similarity void of distinctiveness.
Prof Alan Pert, Helen Day, Hubert Hendrickx