Birrarung Marr Upper Terrace

, Melbourne CBD

Client: City of Melbourne

Type: Victoria, Infrastructure, Public Precinct, W.S.U.D., Stormwater harvesting

Year: 2013

Staff: Andrew Brophy, Dylan Dodds, Tim Hart

Cost: $4 million

Consultant: May Horticultural Services

Over the last year or so, Urban Initiatives have been giving form to the recent 10 year review by Jones & Whitehead of Melbourne’s new riverside park, Birrarung Marr.

The first project to emerge has resulted in the remaking of the upper terrace of the park. In collaboration with CARDNO, UI worked on the integration of large-scale stormwater harvesting infrastructure into the park. This system captures, treats and stores for reuse, approximately 35 million litres of stormwater annually (runoff from 37 hectares of Melbourne’s CBD). It is a high output system (large volumes treated) that has a relatively small, well designed footprint (100 sq. metres surface area).

A new landscape now sits atop the 2.5megalitre underground storage tanks of the system. The landscape features a 60 metre 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 plays out 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.

As a gesture to launch the scheme, the City of Melbourne seeded the wide Exhibition Street embankment with thousands of wildflowers in a temporary horticultural trial.

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"“We know that more water falls on our city than we can use at that time. These projects are a perfect example of the innovative ways we can save and reuse water to ensure that our city is thriving and resilient into the future,”" Arron Wood Environment Councillor, City of Melbourne