The main high street retail strip of Launceston will be transformed next year, with construction starting on the Brisbane Street Mall upgrade in March 2018. ASPECT Studios in Adelaide is leading the design team, and currently documenting the program with engineers Pitt & Sherry.
City of Launceston Council is keen to elevate Launceston into the premiere civic destination of northern Tasmania, and has earmarked the Mall upgrade as the centrepiece of its Launceston City Heart Project. The Mall was identified in community consultations as a high priority area for its concentration of retail activity and pedestrian thoroughfare to the bus interchange.
This upgrade will give the quaint city mall between Charles Street and St John Street new arrival points at either end, scalable event spaces, more seating, shade and lighting, and a distinctly local identity through the use of crafted street furniture and artwork.
Sequencing of play elements, event platforms, shade structures and seating will vary the journey through the new Mall, peppering the route with visual triggers and minor destinations. At either end will be a new entry plaza, then informal gathering spaces, giving way to secondary event spaces and a central larger events stage.
A new design language was developed to integrate more organically into the streetscape, and dispense some of the Mall’s ad hoc elements, such as a curved canopy structure at the western end, with new structures and tree planting aligned more carefully to preserve the eastern view corridor to Cataract Gorge.
Landscape architect Peter Phillips, Studio Director of ASPECT in Adelaide says the design inspiration “has evolved from the built forms and detailing of Launceston, particularly some of its doorways and window shapes from heritage and other buildings. These were deconstructed to give us the hexagonal shape which we’ll use in the furniture and shade structures.”
A new narrative element will be threaded through the Mall – a series of metal sculptures called the Thylacine Walk. This installation, by a local artist yet to be commissioned, will reconstruct a Thylacine family roaming its territory, starting at one end with a single adult trailing behind a family group towards the centre, then decreasing in number at the other end, until all that remains are footprints. It will be an interactive piece to engage and teach about Tasmania’s now extinct extinct apex predator.
“The narrative is very much about Tasmanian history – the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger and bringing that to light in both an educational and playful manner,” says Peter Phillips. “This is a rewarding project for us to be involved, particularly in conjunction with our work on Civic Square. They’ve allowed us to explore the pre- and post-European history of Lonnie, and work closely with Council who have been really receptive to being challenged, and taken on a journey perhaps they didn’t expect.”