We’ve uncovered a gem in Bairnsdale! It has a fabulous network of laneways. We have been thinking about how we can transform these spaces to make them more attractive and vibrant pedestrian-friendly spaces. Last week we met with some of the local traders between Nicholson Street Mall and Main Street and many are keen to explore ideas for opening up and reinvigorating their laneway network.
Some businesses have already started to create a bit of activity with café courtyards. However, the laneways are still fairly inactive and full of car parking so these outdoor areas are mostly screened from view. We also noticed many shops have walk-through doors from the laneway to Main Street or Service/Bailey Streets which provide great shortcuts to get you across the city centre.
Rear Paper Chase Café courtyard and walk-through
View to Campbells Arcade from Nicholson St
Painted mural at rear of House & Gift on Bailey St
Where can we take our inspiration from?
What is the one thing people say they love about the centre of Melbourne? The most common response is the laneways. They are known as the heart of Melbourne. The laneways are a fantastic network of vibrant spaces that host cafés, bars, restaurants and shops. They are a voyage of discovery through the centre of town. The laneways provide useful shortcuts to get from one main street to another – the pedestrian traffic being the impetus for many a lively space along these thoroughfares.
Degraves St, Melbourne
Here is an example of how a small vacant piece of land can be made more interesting and friendly with a small amount of money. Opposite this vacant plot a couple of cafe entrepreneurs set up a coffee machine behind a roller door premises and started serving coffee. Soon enough, word spread of a new “coffee digs” in the neighbourhood and space for seating was in demand. Looking across the street to the vacant site the idea of a café courtyard arose. Below is the result. A few dollars spent sprucing up the space with astroturf, a bathtub of flowers and some milk crate seats and voila!
Chapel St, Fitzroy plot before
Chapel St, Fitzroy plot after
An example of a grassroots community movement is the ‘livable laneways festival’ which is a non-profit organisation based in Vancouver that “challenges Vancouverites to re-examine the…potential of overlooked city areas”. Temporary activities such as art markets, night markets, live music events and public art installations have transformed tired inactive laneways and have revealed the potential of these spaces to become vibrant and pedestrian-based places. See http://www.facebook.com/LivableLaneways
Laneway in Vancouver
Same laneway during a livable laneways festival
A quite different urban renewal example is the container shopping mall that has been set up in Christchurch to revive its retail core following the massive earthquake that hit the city last year. The container mall is a fantastic pedestrian based shopping centre made from brightly painted shipping containers stacked to create 1-2 storey retail shops. See: http://www.theage.com.au/travel/travel-news/think-outside-the-square-20111102-1mvar.html
If you have photos of lanes you like, or activities you think might work in Bairnsdale’s lanes, post them on the blog.