Our cities have grown and our populations have boomed, and some of the simpler things in life have disappeared with the heavy reliance of web content becoming more and more apparent. The modest town square is just one feature of townships that has fallen victim to the new trends of man-kind; however it isn’t going away just yet.
Melbourne-based studio ACME was appointed to create a new town square for Eastland, a massive retail centre just recently erected in the eastern Melbourne suburban area of Ringwood. More than just another labyrinthine mall, Eastland has so far displayed a powerful commitment to its duties of public and cultural elements.
The ACME-designed ‘town square’ is to be a centrepiece of this dedication. The job assigned to the studio will be multi-faceted and grand of scale, and consist of a library, civic centre, multi-storey car park, a sculptural entrance to the shopping mall and the outdoor all day breakfast cafes and the David Jones Outlet store in addition to the public square.
The project is however, just one piece of the $575 million puzzle of Ringwood’s recent and upcoming regrowth. Realm, as the task is called, now offers regional homeowners of the yarra valley and visitors with amenities that have, in the past, mainly been restricted to our city centres.
From the designer:
ACME was selected to design a new town square, a sculptural entrance to the shopping center (the Shard), a library and civic centre, the David Jones outlet store, and a multi-story car-park. The brand-new centre embraces the classical concept of the town square or piazza and reconsiders it within a suburban context. An inward-looking 1960’s master plan has actually been inverted, producing a series of public spaces to provide the whole location an outdoor and public focus.
A new sequence of areas form a new public heart for Ringwood and Maroondah showing that high quality architectural design can produce a more dignified human environment where business gain can exist together happily together with civic gain and produce genuine public areas and centres for the local neighbourhood.
Contemporary design is utilised to frame a range of functions and spaces in a cohesive visual language. The style of the library, town square, Shard and the David Jones shop are of one family, unified by a gradient shift of tones, a Diagrid structural concept and shared material combinations. The contemporary buildings react to the regional topography and function as a signpost from the roadway while also drawing people to and from the train station.
Realm, Maroondah City’s brand-new library, cultural, understanding and development centre is located at the entrance to the town square to form a civic landmark for the whole advancement. Developed as a shaded box of books and digital content, the library’s more strong upper area appears to float above a glass box below that houses public functions including a lunch cafe, art gallery and person recommendations centre, engaging with and opening to the public realm by stepping to street and square.
The patterned flooring of The Town Square is used at differing scales to shift from large open spaces to smaller sized locations allowing for the movement of people and utilises regional Bluestone wherever possible. ACME worked closely with their customer to produce a mix of hard and landscaped locations that bring the intense vegetation of the Yarra Valley winery region into the area.
The square is specified by the Shard, which increases from the ground with a surging roofing system soaring over a transparent glass base. It serves a dual function as light is pulled into the atrium below, while visitors are drawn upwards to access the town square. The form of the Shard makes sure that there is no part which ‘turns its back’ to the square serving as an entrance into the shopping center from Maroondah high street. This small area has actually become a primary path in and out of the centre and characterises the vibrant, modern reimagining of the old shopping center.
The grand sculpted strong stone portals and bronzed metal shop-fronts of the surrounding retail area preserve a consistent scheme throughout; making sure the space has a dignified uniformity.
The brand-new town square and surrounding retail areas accommodate and support a range of public functions, such as market stalls, outdoor concerts, and screenings while enhancing the sense of identity and using a civic space for the neighbourhood of Ringwood.