Urban Initiatives was engaged to give form to Melbourne’s new riverside park, Birrarung Marr, following a review by Jones & Whitehead.

The first project to emerge was a remake of the upper terrace of the park. In collaboration with Cardno, Urban Initiatives worked on the integration of large-scale stormwater harvesting infrastructure into the park. This system captures, treats and stores for re-use approximately 35 million litres of stormwater annually (runoff from 37 hectares of Melbourne’s CBD). It is a high-output system with a well-designed and relatively small footprint of 100 square metres of surface area.

A new landscape now sits atop the system’s 2.5 megalitre underground storage tanks. The landscape features a long, formal terrace and associated bio-filtration bed, extensive new embankment plantings and an elegant stairway connecting the upper and lower terraces. The formal upper terrace serves as both promenade and viewing platform, offering commanding views of the city, river and gardens below.

The new stairway adds a critical axis connecting the high ground of the park and the city at Exhibition Street to the riverside terrace below. The stairway was conceived as a hillside escarpment where the staggered staircase is punctuated with regular, broad-edged, terrace-like outcrops, planted with grouped trees. With this form, the stairs allow casual occupation of the hillside.

  • Location

    Melbourne, Victoria

  • Role

    Landscape Architect

  • Client

    City of Melbourne

  • Construction Budget


  • Collaboration


  • Traditional Owners

    Wurundjeri People

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