Continuous Ground
Future Park International Design Competition
The University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA)
Melbourne, Australia, August 2019

Jacky Bowring, Jill Garner, Julia Czerniak, Mark Skiba, Susan Alberti, Reuben Hore-Waterhouse

Presented by the University of Melbourne, in partnership with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, this ideas competition asked how can parks shape Melbourne’s urban form? Where should new public open space be located, how should it be configured and what is its role?

A park is not an isolated place.  Instead, it is a connection to a continuous ground, an unbroken series of planes linked through space and time.  This continuous ground runs everywhere under the city: below buildings, under asphalt, and beneath concrete.  A park is not an added amenity.  Rather, it is the absence of construction.  In the urban extents of Melbourne, building a park in the future begins with unbuilding the city, reconciling with the past, and opening new directions forward.  

This proposal calls for the creation of two reciprocal landscapes.  The Queen Victoria Market is to be disassembled and moved to create a new open space in the city.  The market is to be relocated to the Moonee Creek Community, comprised of E-Gate and the lands to its west.

The market is currently built over the graves of Melbourne’s first residents.  This proposal asks that the entire market be moved, releasing the ground and respectfully acknowledging both those who were and those who remain buried on site.  A burial mound will be lifted to remind busy locals of their debt to the past and responsibility to future generations.

Once the market is removed, this proposal seeks to combine the newly opened site and the adjacent Flagstaff Gardens into a continuous landscape that draws aesthetic inspiration from local aboriginal art.  Circuitous meanderings envelope the park goers into contemplative recesses, only to open out into larger gathering spaces.  From Burial Hill, the highest point in Flagstaff Gardens, you could at one point see distant views of the bay.  As the city grew, however, views were turned inward.  This proposal completes the cycle and calls for the construction of a massive rubble Memorial Boulder as a site of collective introspection.

Finally, the new Port Market Wetland Park and Moonee Creek Community are designed to preserve a connection to the ground while accommodating a growing population.  The wetland park references Batman’s Swamp and is designed to support a salt marsh habitat, accepting both rising floodwaters and stormwater.  The restored marsh is encircled by the newly relocated market, and beyond, a new model of development proposes that housing is interspersed with ample green space.  Here urban agriculture, an opportunity to touch and work the soil, is the first strategy to connect local citizens with the ground, linking their future to the past and growing a healthy community.