Putting the “Park” in “Car Park”: Prahran Square, Prahran, Australia

Session: B: Urban Habitat Award: District/Master Plan

Kirsten BauerProject image

Kirsten Bauer
Director, Aspect Studios

Prahran Square is an innovative mixed-use precinct that combines urban park, car park, and retail areas to meet multiple societal needs in a dense urban context. As densification and pollution create demand for more green open space, the ability of governments to provide that space slips as land becomes more precious. The design prioritizes people and plants and reconnects with its local streets and precincts to form an integrated urban park, and creates a meaningful and functional public space above a new underground garage.

The central area of the development is a programmable hardscape of high-quality granite cobbles that forms an adaptable platform for a range of events, from daily use to large community gatherings. The concrete and timber terraces on one side create large-scale amphitheater-style seating for up to 1,500 people. An interactive multi-jet water feature embedded at the center of the project creates a focal point where passers-by can easily engage, and children can play. The design strategy creates an interior landscape sanctuary that is sheltered from the constant vehicular traffic of the surrounding streets.

Permeable surfaces and planted garden beds set into light-colored surfaces mitigate the urban heat island effect. This is augmented by the provision of 131 large-canopy trees that provide shade and habitat for animals and birds. Low water use and drought-tolerant species were prioritized to reduce watering requirements and improve biodiversity. Energy efficiency measures include LED lighting, high-performance thermal building fabric and glazing, solar PV, and stormwater capture and management. Reduction of light pollution to neighboring properties and the night sky have met best practice guidelines.