25 June 2018

International urban design team tasked with planning Civic arts precinct

| Glynis Quinlan
Join the conversation

City Renewal Authority chief executive Malcolm Snow at Civic Square. Photo: Supplied by the City Renewal Authority.

The team behind successful urban renewal master plans in Adelaide, Sydney and Wellington has been appointed to deliver a plan to create a premier arts and cultural precinct in Civic which will include a makeover of Civic Square.

Led by international design practice Warren and Mahoney and urban planners and designers Oxigen, the team includes Canberra-based community engagement and heritage specialists.

Over the next 12 months, Warren and Mahoney and Oxigen have been tasked with developing a precinct plan “that reflects the needs and aspirations of a young and dynamic community that values community life, social inclusion and financial and environmental sustainability”.

The proposed Civic, Arts and Cultural Precinct spans from Constitution Avenue to Northbourne Avenue and is bordered by London Circuit to the east and City Hill to the west. It also includes Ainslie Avenue from London Circuit to City Walk.

The precinct is currently home to the Canberra Theatre, the ACT Legislative Assembly, the Canberra Museum and Gallery and the new ACT Government office block which is under construction. It also houses the Civic Library but the renewal may see it moved from its present location.

An aerial view of the precinct (shaded) and key features, including the site of the new Government offices and future land release. The image is from the tender document.

According to City Renewal Authority chief executive Malcolm Snow, the successful tender has proven experience in delivering high-profile civic redevelopment in Australia and New Zealand, as well as being innovative, design-led and committed to community engagement.

“Warren and Mahoney and Oxigen have all of the technical skills to formulate a comprehensive precinct plan and they also have an approach to city design consistent with the City Renewal Authority’s values,” he said.

Mr Snow said the Civic, Arts and Cultural Precinct needs to be a national and international drawcard for Canberra “but first of all it needs to be a place embraced by Canberrans”.

“The selected team has a combination of international experience and local knowledge to help bring together a precinct plan of world-wide significance designed with the Canberra community in mind,” Mr Snow said.

“The plan will focus on improving connectivity and increasing the overall cultural offering for the precinct, including public realm improvements, early interventions, pop-up opportunities, and flexible and adaptable spaces that can serve a wide variety of community needs throughout the year.”

The plan for the new precinct is expected to include a makeover for Civic Square, with the tender document referring to this area as a “missed opportunity”.

“With work commenced on the new Government Office Building, and the proposed redevelopment of the Canberra Theatre, an opportunity presents itself to prepare a framework to ensure these developments are integrated with thinking around a broader precinct,” the tender document said.

Oxigen has had a Canberra office since 2009 and the project team will also include Canberra-based engineers Taylor Thomson Whitting, cost planners Rider Levett Bucknall, community engagement experts Tania Parkes Consulting and heritage consultant Duncan Marshall.

MacroPlan Dimasi will provide strategic property advice including land-use analysis and assessment of impacts.

In the past, Warren and Mahoney and Oxigen have led key civic redevelopment projects such as the Tonsley Innovation Precinct in Adelaide, the Bays Strategic Master Plan in Sydney and the Christchurch Recovery Blueprint in New Zealand.

The team also has extensive experience in public building design, with credits including the New Zealand International Convention Centre and the $8.4 million Te Papa Museum and Art Gallery refurbishment in Wellington, as well as public buildings in Christchurch and Adelaide.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

What we desperately need in Canberra is a 600 to 700 seat recital hall. The best currently on offer is the Fitter’s workshop, hopelessly unsuitable. Hopefully space can be made as Canberran’s enjoy fine music at both a higher per head level, and often at a higher numerical level than Sydney or Melbourne. A 2,000 seat performance theatre seems just a bit too large. Many shows in Canberra never get any more than 80% full. But if the planning shows a need then congratulations on the initiative.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.