Housing Choices Australia is working in Dandenong to upgrade and expand their affordable housing portfolio to meet the needs of a diversity of residents including low-income and vulnerable populations. Working with HCA, Hodyl & Co sought to identify opportunities for place-making and activation in a specific affordable housing development project in a way that addressed local issues, such as poor safety and visual amenity, and contributed to a positive sense of place and more cohesive community for both residents and the local Dandenong community.
Hodyl & Co first undertook a review of City of Greater Dandenong policies to identify how the project could complement Council’s strategic objectives. We completed a spatial analysis of the local neighbourhood to understand existing community infrastructure provision in the area and an urban design review to identify innovative opportunities for a range of place-making initiatives to support a diverse community.
Hodyl & Co proposed a range of urban design and place-making options that addressed not just the physical space itself but how the space could be used, and by whom, at different times (e.g. weekdays, weekends & special events). The work prioritised flexible and adaptable initiatives to enable multiple users and uses and balance the needs of residents with the needs of the wider community.
East Preston Creative Strategy and Plan
The Northland Urban Renewal Precinct is situated in a large industrial area in East Preston, neighbouring the Darebin Creek. The 135-hectare site has traditionally been home to commerce and industry, and is now in initial planning stages to transition into a mixed-use neighbourhood. The draft vision for the Precinct places the expression of culture and creativity as a central aspiration for the renewal project.
In early 2018, Hodyl+Co completed the Darebin Creative and Cultural Infrastructure Framework and established a spatial framework for the delivery of arts infrastructure across Darebin. The framework identified the Northland Urban Renewal Precinct as a suitable location for the delivery of four types of infrastructure: arts hub/s, live-work spaces, other distributed creative spaces and affordable housing to support low-income artists.
The Framework also outlined the importance of integrating creative and cultural infrastructure into early strategic planning decisions for the precinct. Following this advice, Council sought to establish a place-specific strategy that would realise their ambition for fostering a thriving creative neighbourhood.
The existing qualities of the neighbourhood were used as a starting point to identify the suitable locations in which creative industries should be fostered. The challenge was to protect existing creative industries, as well as identifying opportunities to facilitate the sector’s growth.
This method led to the identification of a smaller sub-precinct within the large renewal area that has the necessary physical conditions to support creative industries activity, including fine-grain subdivision patterns, potential access to the Creek and an emerging clustering of new creative spaces. Within this sub-precinct, specific interventions relating to the investment in the clustering of creative industries were recommended.
The Strategy incorporates arts infrastructure planning early on in the planning process to shape this significant urban renewal opportunity. It highlights the opportunity to translate this approach to other precincts, demonstrating the benefit of considered strategic interventions that can be applied early to support creative communities.