Pigdon Street

20140908 pigdon street #1

In the beginning of our design thesis research, we conducted a comprehensive study of every street in the entire City Of Yarra. The aim of the study was to strategically disperse students across the entire municipality in order to establish a broad picture of the municipality and provide a platform for students to select a their own case study for our Streets Without Cars urban design projects.

The council is divided into three wards each comprising of multiple suburbs, which we divided between the members of our design studio.

The Nicholls Ward, which comprises of Princess Hill, Carlton North, Fitzroy North and Fitzroy was selected by our team of 4 students. The Nicholls Ward was then further divided amongst the group in two parts, shown in the image below, with myself and Micha Woodhouse studying the section of the ward west of St. Georges Road.

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The street mapping exercise involved each the students visiting every street and recording as much information as possible in order to get a detailed picture of our chosen case study areas. During the study we recorded the street dimensions, cross sectional properties, locations of car parking, trees and public parks, as well as the building types and public transport networks. This organic research allowed us to build a very detailed and comprehensive taxonomy of the streets within the ward. Visiting and recording the streets over a couple of days ultimately helped us develop an in-depth understanding of the general street proportions and urban planning strategies deployed across the 100+ streets we visited. The entire study undertaken by myself and Micha Woodhouse can be downloaded in .pdf format here (24Mb).

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The image above has been compiled from the observations we recorded during our extensive street mapping. We found that the majority of streets within our study area are predominantly residential (65%), followed by laneways (19%), main (14%), alleyways (2%) and no major arterial roads.

The public transport street coverage is fairly low, with buses (4%) and trams (2%) being the only services available. What we found is that the road share is greater for bicycles (16.5%), with well established bicycle corridors along Canning Street and Park Street.

The major tram routes are along Nicholson Street and Lygon Street, with bus routes running east-west and north-south between the two major tram corridors. We also noted that the majority of public transport users are along the tram networks, with bus routes supporting very low patronage.

Tram routes: 1, 8, 96        

  • Nicholson Street
  • Lygon Street

Bus routes: 250, 251, 504, 508          

  • Rathdowne Street
  • Amess Street
  • Park Street
  • Holden Street
  • Fenwick Street
  • Nicholson Street

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In terms of building types and use, we found that the majority of our streets were residential, with only 37% of streets supporting commercial and business activities. There was an approximately equal share of streets which have access to schools and educational facilities (22%) and other health and community services (23%). Hospitality was also one of the major building uses with 26% of the streets having access to a cafe, restaurant, hotel or a pub. Industrial zones are not part of the streetscape with only 2% of all streets supporting any industrial activities. Institutional buildings such as places of worship (11%) were the other building use we observed.

Major commercial and hospitality precincts:

  • Rathdowne Street
  • Lygon Street
  • Nicholson Street
  • Scotchmer Street

Small commercial and hospitality precincts:

  • Pigdon Street, east of Lygon Street
  • Rae Street
  • Newry Street

An interesting finding of our research was that the majority of streets within our chosen study area had either well established or planted trees with only 27% of all the streets we visited having no trees at all. The access to public parks was about 35%, followed by 14% of streets having access to semi-public parks scattered around the ward. Although Princes Park, which lies west of the City of Yarra municipality boundary (it falls within the City of Melbourne), could not be considered as part of our study area, we did observe large patronage to this large inner Melbourne park from within our ward.

The entire map collection of the Nicholls Ward street mapping study can be downloaded in .pdf format here (6Mb).

This extensive research of our ward led to the selection of Pigdon Street as the site of my own Streets Without Cars design thesis case study.

20140908 pigdon street #5

The selection of Pigdon Street was an intuitive one for me, as I observed it to be what I consider the odd one out within our taxonomy of streets. The street was particularly interesting for me as it’s incredibly wide in cross-section (40.5m), which is 10m wider than both Nicholson and Lygon Streets.

20140908 pigdon street #6

The large nature strip was also a major attraction point as when we visited the street it seemed very under utilised and we could not see any local residents making use of this great green open space. The proximity of Princes Park and Park Street Park were also a major consideration, as I saw them to be major anchor points that in a sense framed a little enclave within Princes Hill.

20140908 pigdon street #7

The predominantly residential nature of this end of Pigdon Street and lack of any hospitality or commercial activities also drew my attention as I considered that the closest commercial precincts of Lygon Street and Barkly Square to be the only option for the residents.

20140908 pigdon street #8

The absence of public transport was also an interesting observation, with bicycle lanes being the predominant transport network in Princes Hill, in contrast to the streets we observed within the Carlton and Fitzroy North area, where bicycle lanes were present but often not well separated from car traffic as they are on Pigdon Street.

20140908 pigdon street #9

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Above all, the under utilised nature strip and the sheer width of what is essential a residential street were the major deciding factors in my selection of Pigdon Street. I saw the nature strip as a great opportunity to stitch together the great Princes and Park Street Parks, and an opportunity to rethink the space and its use within the framework of our Streets Without Cars urban design project.

How would the streetscape change if the amount of asphalt was substituted with alternative, pedestrian friendly spaces ? Can the street become another anchor and nucleus of the community? How might Pigdon Street foster new ways for residents to live together as a community?

These are the questions I would like to answer with my research and ultimately my architectural intervention.

Image sources

  1. Pigdon Street, copyright of author.
  2. Nicholls Ward maps #1, #2 and #3, all copyright of author in conjunction with Micha Woodhouse, Cicero Nguyen and William Hallett.
  3. Pigdon Street aerial map, sourced from Google Maps.
  4. Pigdon Street, copyright of author.
  5. Nicholls Ward maps #4, #5, #6 and #7, all copyright of author in conjunction with Micha WoodhouseCicero Nguyen and William Hallett.

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