The “Urban-Water Transect” project saw RMIT students investigate the Moonee Ponds Creek over a ten-week period in order to develop a vision for its future.
After being described as “arguably the most abused tributary of the Yarra River” by Age writer Margaret Simmons, the Moonee Ponds Creek was in need of a new plan for improvement.
Melbourne Water formed a group called the Moonee ponds Creek Consultative Committee involving local councils, community groups and other stakeholders.
The design studio involving 13 RMIT students was facilitated by Dr Michaela Prescott and assisted by Dr Ata Tara, came up with solutions to create a more desirable environment for the creek.
“The Creek runs underneath the iconic Bolte Bridge where it joins the Yarra River. One of the incredible things about the Creek is that while it’s a relatively short watercourse, its landscape is characteristically industrial, urban, sub-urban, and agricultural and disturbed-natural,” Prescott says.
Throughout the ten-week investigation students studied the creek through a series of transects, journeying multiple times along its length through its very characteristic areas which enabled them to gain an understanding of a number of challenges that faced the site.
They also participated in a series of guest presentations from local government, design practitioners and researchers which helped them develop a master plan and respond to the issues that arose.
Prescott says that these problems stretch the entire length of the corridor and included things that affect not only the creek but design for sites, neighbourhoods, and larger urban precincts along the creek.
“The creek is quite a complex environment. The multitude of problems are often not addressed because of the vagueness surrounding management and responsibilities and environmental factors like flow variation,” she says.
Students developed a master plan that consisted of a comprehensive creek-wide strategy targeting multiple locations with achievable outcomes.
These outcomes are said to not only improve the creeks overall health, but create greater outcomes for the North-West Melbourne district.
“The student works shows the potential of the creek as a recreational and parkland corridor, illustrating the future potential of the Moonee Ponds Creek so that the impacts of the West Gate Tunnel Project, which has been initiated, can be properly understood. This is a positive example of how a project with simple ambitions which is grounded in the real-world can have value within the city,” she says.
Students also developed an app to provide visitors with a better travel experience along Moonee Ponds Creek in an attempt to strengthen the relationship between the creek and city people.
Story: Mikaela Ortolan