Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture: Campbell Section 5 occupies a pivotal site at the junction of two major Griffin axes between Capital Hill and Mount Ainslie, and Civic and Russell. Few sites, by location, are awarded the opportunity to reinforce this dominant Canberra Legacy. Hassett Park is a new urban park in the public domain framework for Campbell 5, part of an upscale and redevelopment along Constitution Avenue of key inner city sites. The park sets a new benchmark for public domain design on the urban fringe of Canberra.
The design process explored what makes a civic park – through community consultation and comparative analysis of established local parks. The resulting design balances demand for recreation, culture and environment, so that educative and play opportunities, and environmental systems, seamlessly merge to form the aesthetic frame.
The park is overlooked by residential and mixed use on all sides, with direct connections to all streets, providing key public domain facilities to the new and existing community. Internal movement systems are connected to existing and planned cycle routes, and link the existing suburb of Campbell to the lake. The park is near the bottom of a large catchment stretching to the top of ANZAC Parade and beyond, encompassing a large part of the existing suburb. A pre-existing drainage line and farm dam on the site was used as a design cue, with a new urban creek woven around the contours of the former gully. Sinuous walls and paths emanate from the form of the creek, structuring movement and use.
Streets and parks of Campbell 5 have been delivered as a framework for development; the park in particular provides immediate amenity for the existing community on the edges of the park while the new community develops. The park has a variety of environments to foster diverse use, providing for children’s play, exercise, active recreation, and gathering space for community and ANZAC events.
The urban stream daylights and treats stormwater, creating a delightful educative overlay that reconnects people to natural systems in the city.
The design took the initiative of capturing stormwater from within the new development site, and from the existing wider suburban catchment. The first flush from the piped system is brought to the surface; flows are contained and filtered through the stream and wetlands, stored in tanks beneath the bridge, and re used for irrigation or released, filtered into the lake.
Design for sustainability was central to the design team’s objectives. The park is functionally and aesthetically structured around WSUD systems, including water efficiency and fit for purpose supply through water harvesting; clean and healthy water environment and flood mitigation, resulting in reduction of water use for maintenance, and cleaner water entering the lake. The seamless integration of recreation and water quality systems sets a new benchmark for civic park design, as evidenced by a commendation in the Stormwater Award for Excellence 2016. The commercial success and social acceptance of the park design has encouraged the LDA to continue the principles embodied in the design in future projects.
The design seeks to foster a new aesthetic that springs from natural systems, merging the wild with the functional program of urban open space. Water sensitive urban design is central in the structure of the park; it becomes part of daily movement, and part of the play experience. It heightens people’s awareness and passively educates users of the role of water in the environment in an immediate and delightful way. The grassland edges foster wildlife, and introduce a wilder aesthetic to the urban park network in Canberra. Trees removed for development were reused as play elements, and new trees were a balance of deciduous and locally native species.
Hassett Park has delivered to the new residents of Campbell 5 and the existing population of the suburb of Campbell a public realm that celebrates the value of open space in Canberra. The design is testament that the Land Development Agency can deliver a high quality public realm that goes above and beyond the needs and aspirations of the greater community and demonstrates the ACT Government’s commitment to first class urban renewal projects. At the time of sale the design had a significant positive effect on the sales price for the estate and the Land Development Agency is confident that their investment will have an equally positive social investment for the C5 residents and Canberra region.
LOCATION: Campbell Section 5, Campbell ACT, AUSTRALIA
DESIGN YEAR: 2011
AREA: 2.5 Hectares
COLLABORATORS: Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects, Cardno
IMAGE CREDITS: John Gollings, Dianna Snape, JILA