By David Schout
A group of four young architects has beaten 41 entrants in an innovation competition to revitalise the north-west corner of the CBD.
The Sydney-based team’s winning effort Reflective Lane proposed a series of digital projections in selected laneways that celebrate the city’s diversity.
The only prerequisite of the Urban Land Institute’s competition was that entrants (under the age of 35) focused on the area bound by LaTrobe, William, Bourke and Spencer streets, which it said was “underutilised and lacking activity”.
Architect Bohan Jones, who worked with Mirvac Design colleagues HJ Yoon, Will Cai and Linda Lin, said the aim within the space was to reflect the stories that made Melbourne the city it was.
“I’m so stoked, and proud of the team effort,” he said. “We came together as a team after work and started brainstorming. In the end, we had a ball. There were lots of 3am finishes, but it was all worth it.”
Their submission included a narrative of fictional city worker “Nirimar” who, already late on his morning commute, couldn’t help but take in the laneway installations he was walking through.
These include projections of a Berlin orchestra, the streets of Tokyo and a game with children from Nairobi.
As Nirimar considers excuses to explain his tardiness, he stumbles upon a projection from his home town in India, which causes him to stop and reflect. This is where the Reflective Lane concept was created.
“Our initial thoughts were towards a concept and experiences that were shared or reflected,” Mr Jones said
“Shared stories, shared cultures – reflecting Melbourne to the world and the world to Melbourne.”
The competition, while creating hypothetical designs, brought together both students and young professionals who were passionate about creating inclusive, public spaces.
As part of their design, Mr Jones and his team spoke with local and international artists, creating a design that went “beyond Australia”.
“It was hypothetical, but we also wanted to prove it was viable,” he said.
“We wanted to emphasise human interaction and the different people experiencing it. Authenticity always tends to be the key and that was the challenge for us too.”
ULI Australia executive director and jury chair David McCracken said the proposal wowed the judges for a number of reasons.
“This submission stood out because it shows a singular cultural and creative approach to changing the experience and perception of this area,” he said.
“It recognised the power of creative activity, supporting artists’ place in their own communities and building international connectivity through the process.”
“The concept of Reflective Lane would uplift the community and create value to the urban fabric, highlighting the positive impact of arts and culture on cities and precincts.”
The Reflective Lane team won $2000 and a trip to Shanghai to present its proposal at the ULI 2019 Asia Pacific Conference.