A grand promenade akin to Broadway in New York or La Rambla in Barcelona would at the centre of a new eastern gateway to the Perth City as part of a plan to create a mixed-use hub twice the size of the Northbridge Link.
At the invitation of the City of Perth, the Perth team of Roberts Day, in collaboration with Brian McMahon of Parsons Brinckerhoff, recently contributed ideas and concept designs to the City of Perth 'What If?' project. 'What If?' is an initiative of the City inviting 10 consultants to examine ten city sites identified as requiring investigation, planning and renewal.
Roberts Day chose 'Reconnecting the City: Railway East of Barrack Street to the Swan River, East Perth' for its enormous potential to improve the functionality, identity and liveability of the city. It explored possibilities of covering a 2km stretch of the railway line from Central Station to the old East Perth Power Station, and portions of the Graham Farmer Freeway. The idea involved a variety of engineering interventions or 'seeds' which would create the potential for 40ha of land to be turned into a diverse new neighbourhood for 10,000 people and turn Perth into a 'city of waterfronts'.
Roberts Day's concept plan, proposes three main 'seeds' as catalysts for further change:
1. extending the Perth Station rail tunnel through to Lord Street;
2. building platforms out from the Lord Street and East Parade bridges to accommodate development and reduce the barrier created by transport infrastructure in these locations;
3. Relocation of McIver and Claisebrook Station and designing these to appear as underground stations with access from ground level.
From these 'seeds' a Creative Quarter that draws on the synergies between the media, design, manufacturing and arts industries, and an Eastern Waterfront district featuring a world-class urban square linking a new rail station to the waterfront at the power station can 'grow' into vibrant communities.
The greatest strength of the Roberts Day concept is its ability to facilitate transformational changes to this part of the city through many moderate interventions and infrastructure projects that can be staged independently and commence immediately. While elements of the concept are undoubtedly 'grand gestures', their genuine success relies on a myriad of small interventions anchored by a clear vision.
The City of Perth's Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, has touted the project a major success in reminding us of the relevance of debate and discussion in planning. "The City acknowledges the extraordinary amount of work, literally "above and beyond the call of duty" that has been carried out by the commissioned firms and from those who freely contributed their time just be part of the program. The enthusiasm and passion that they have demonstrated has underscored the important that we all place on Perth's future." she said.