Canberra Urbanity

The New Northbourne Avenue

There has been a bit of noise of late around the proposals that the ACT Government is to introduce a light rail system into Canberra. In the first instance the rail will connect the inner north and the newer northern suburbs through to Civic, the main CBD area.

The light rail should have been there at least 20 years ago. It will be an interesting problem to make it viable now. Some form of transit system is required but so much of the infrastructure around it will need to be also altered. The city was built for cars. Many issues to be worked through. For instance ….

Northbourne Avenue is presently the main road entrance to Canberra. The centre piece for the avenue is the long stretch of magnificent gum trees; or to be more accurate, Eucalyptus elata, known as river peppermints or river white gum.

Local writers have highlighted the requirement for a special landscape led design solution along Northbourne Ave when the long overdue light rail is introduced. There is no doubt that the capital’s profile has benefited from this magnificent entrance and those responsible for their planting should be recognised.

But it is time to move on.

The challenge now is for a different design solution that delivers an equivalent tree-lined entrance as well as allowing for the light rail, cars, bicycles and pedestrians. My concern is not necessarily for the present 420 trees but that the replacements are as beautiful, as dominating and maybe even more in number. Why stop at 420.

The more creative suggestion is that ACT Government should consider the whole site, being all of Northbourne Ave, as a clean slate. It is a great opportunity to start afresh.

This will require expertise outside the usual architectural suspects who have delivered some of our landscape works of late. It has been a while since anyone has been able to point to high level large landscape works being delivered to the National Capital.

I shudder ever time I drive up Anzac Parade and view how those noble sentinels, the trees, that line the avenue, have had their aesthetic dominance diminished by those flying saucers lights. There must have been a better lighting and landscape solution. What were they thinking?

The design of the new Northbourne Ave entrance to this city requires very creative landscape oriented thinking. This is another important part of our green infrastructure. Climate Change is with us. This piece of infrastructure could be designed to assist with the necessary urban climate adaptation.

Shall we dream of a world-class linear park designed to assist with climate change adaptation as well as that offering opportunities to walk as well as to catch public transport – and therefore be an encouragement to be healthy.

Keep it simple, subtle and the emphasis on landscape and people.

Fingers crossed. Here’s hoping! 🙁

Please comment (silly stuff will be trashed)- and use this to make contact - personal contact messages will not appear publicily

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *