POST-INDUSTRIAL PUBLIC [TOPOS 81]

In the latest issue of Topos (#81 – Water Landscapes) is an article by SunAnne Ware, professor at RMIT. ‘Post-Industrial Public’ offers some very insightful critique on the recently completed Wynyard projects, specifically North Wharf Promenade, Jellicoe Street and Silo Park. SueAnne notes the sophistication of detail within the projects “without being finicky” and the unique qualities that make Jellicoe Street simultaneously urbane and “a garden”. An historic photograph and Rosseau painting are cited to give a more personal insight into the qualities that the Jellicoe spaces evoked in the author.

The article includes some welcome discussion on the predominant – and tragic – normative design approaches that have defined many waterfront projects, picking up particularly on the often mean-scaling of public and circulation spaces, and the all-far-too-familiar overt nautical theming of waterfront spaces with tired maritime motifs.

A tidy series of additive categorisations for post-industrial landscapes is used to position the Wynyard projects against other notable predecessors, and identifies that the Wynyard projects do something a little different. While they exhibit many of the tenets of other post-industrial projects, the approach to supporting existing uses and the resulting configuration of interventions yield a unique aesthetic, series of spaces and a distinct appreciation of the formally – and now partially – industrial waterfront.

The article, encouragingly, identifies and focuses on what were the core concerns of the design team: issues of scale, retention and integration – not just of fabric but uses – and carefully considered addition and intervention.