Ignite worked closely with numerous stakeholders throughout this project to ensure that the design aligned with council’s vision, supported efficient commuter circulation, sympathetically addressed the heritage streetscape character of Willoughby Road, and provided a highly attractive civic amenity for people to enjoy.
“We are passionate about crafting truly public places. Places that everyone in the community can enjoy and utilise,” explains Ignite Associate Director Jose Dall’Asta. “For us, they need to be embedded with beauty, they must facilitate and promote activity, and importantly, they should be comfortable, functional, safe, accessible, and non-discriminatory.”
“They are important places for people to meet and socialise,” adds Ignite Director Jason Marriott, “so they’re key to the liveability of our urban environments. Great civic spaces are memorable – they provide a setting and backdrop for community life.”
Ignite led the design development and managed the delivery of this 1,200m2 civic project, which is the first stage of a larger urban expansion plan for the precinct. The project is made up of two distinct outdoor areas: a covered pedestrian thoroughfare that links Willoughby Road to Hume Lane, and a large green space between Hume Lane and Hume Street. A cohesive experience is created through the marriage of architectural detailing, materiality, and landscaping.
Working with Arcadia Landscaping, a connection to nature underpinned the design development. The large green space consists of a central lawn area surrounded by custom-designed seating and Australian natives. It provides a soft space for community gatherings, lunchbreaks, relaxation, and events like local markets. The 2018 award-winning sculpture M-fortysix—appropriately reflective of movement and play from Australian artist James Parrett—has found its permanent home here. Flanking the lawn are large, programmable digital wall panels that bring night-time vibrance and activity to this green opening in the Crows Nest fabric.
In keeping with the nature connection, the Willoughby Road weatherproof canopy is detailed with random cut-outs and a transparent roof that casts a dappled shadow effect akin to tree canopies. To soften the link’s hard surfaces, corten panels with extensive two-storey green-walls run along its length. Sustainable, natural materials are also used throughout, such as sandstone and Darwin stringybark; the bark is harvested by indigenous communities from sustainable growth forests.
To bring the design to life, we have celebrated Crows Nest’s stories and history. The 1920s heritage brick façade on Willoughby Road has been preserved to act as a historic entryway, and the original signage of the furniture store that formerly occupied the site has been restored. The store’s façade profile has been inlaid into the paving with brass strips as a reminder of the once-busy retail space, while the original transom windows have been saved and reinstalled as wall features.
“We shouldn’t underestimate the value of small spaces when it comes to placemaking,” says Jason. “They have the potential to bring significant activation to precincts while making pedestrian journeys so much more enjoyable. Hume Street Plaza does this while contributing to an important new chapter in the area’s public transport infrastructure.”