Street analysis and selection
As with any design project of any nature, great design results come from a sensitive understanding of the sites with which we intervene. The unsolicited agenda of the Streets Without Cars study project in particular meant we were given the opportunity to select our own street to redesign as opposed to inheriting the site from a client. For me, the area I chose to investigate was a section of the Nicholls Ward in the City of Yarra that includes Collingwood, Fitzroy and North Fitzroy.
Divided by Alexandra Parade and Smith Street, Collingwood, Fitzroy and North Fitzroy whilst geographically close, offer a distinct difference in street composition and street character. As expected, North Fitzroy is predominantly residential whilst Collingwood and Fitzroy share mixed representation between residential, industrial and retail streets.
The diverse streets and industrial visual character made picking a Collingwood or Fitzroy street an enticing proposition. What’s not to love about adding a bit of polish to a run-down stretch of street and calling it a job well done? For whatever reason, riding through the streets of all three suburbs had me more partial to the northern side of Alexandra Parade, despite Collingwood and Fitzroy’s industrial charm.
North Fitzroy has the rare nature strip only every so often and yet, its streets feel greener. They’re most definitely wider in general, which on paper means more asphalt, but in conjunction with their large, mature trees means more canopy coverage and more generous space between buildings. And obviously, residential streets are more likely to be less dominated by car and public transport networks than busier retail streets. Strangely enough this makes wide residential streets an illogical product. Why have wider roads only to support less traffic volume? In the context of the project’s agenda however, this extra unnecessary width is a luxury – more space to win back for the pedestrian.
Rushall Crescent of North Fitzroy jumped out in particular because of its nature strips. There’s your standard 1200mm strip on the western residential side and a massive 10m behemoth of a nature strip on the opposite eastern side, adjacent to a gated retirement village. The road itself caters to cars, bikes and occasional buses, and offers plenty of on street parking – important in the context of North Fitzroy’s illusive to find garage or carport. It also happens to run parallel to the Merri Creek and directly link St. Georges and Brunswick Roads to Heidelberg Road, operating as a traffic highway between these areas. Talk about a confused stretch of asphalt. Or an overachieving stretch, your choice.
The generous nature strip in conjunction with its proximity to the Merri Creek (albeit separated by the retirement village) were Rushall Crescent’s most immediate drawcards, but it was the curious traffic conditions that sparked my enquiry most. Rushall Crescent is not your average residential street, which is why it was selected as the departure point for traffic analysis toward producing a propositional outcome.
What anomalies contribute to Rushall Crescent’s character? Why is it different to your average residential street? And how do these irregularities give us an opportunity to develop a distinctive proposition for Streets Without Cars relative to its individual context?
Note: due to subsequent traffic and community analysis, I made the decision to refocus my attention on the adjacent Falconer Street, which intersects with Rushall Crescent and runs south away from Rushall train station.
- Street selection, this and subsequent images copyright of author.
- Street character.
- Street analysis.