Initial impressions are of public space that has been added to incrementally without an over-arching view; it is a piecemeal result that ultimately satisfies no one. The materiality of the bricks creates a harsh surface that contributes to a poor micro climate. A lack of vegetation and canopy cover heightens the need for shade; exposure to the elements needs to be addressed.
Pedestrian movement throughout the square should be extroverted; the space should cater for a citizenry that wants to be publicly associated. The present interventions do not address the scale of the square; the square is divided into small nooks that suggest privatisation of public space.
The 2 spaces are divided by an existing building that includes a cafe. The aim of the proposal is to work with this divide and create two spaces of different and contrasting character. The existing car park is transformed into a park. The new park is used to enlarge and contain Henley Square.
The edges of the park are defined, especially by an elevated mound to the west, creating a protected and contained space in juxtaposition to the surrounding area. Users can escape into an environment that offers shelter from the very public atmosphere of the beach and its associated coastal walk as well as from Henley Square. The park also offers shelter from an exposed environment, it aims to protect from the sun and the prevailing south-westerly wind. This orchestration makes for a formidable event setting, the elevated mound at the western edge doubles as a staging option for events. The central spline creates a direct route to the foreshore.
Henley Square is overtly a public space in terms of its character and function. Historically it is a street that was closed to become a pedestrian thoroughfare with its edges activated for retail and dining. This proposal envisages an uncluttered space; shade is introduced in the form of trees planted on the northern edge and umbrella structures in playful colours. The trees will reinforce Norfolk Pine plantings and evolve into a magnificent stand over time. The umbrellas directly evoke the atmosphere of the seaside providing immediate shade and a place to gather. The central ground plane takes the form of a ripple deck; its materiality derives from the jetty structure while form is influenced by the swell of the ocean. The peaks of the deck protect from the wind while the troughs provide seating and allow pedestrians to circulate from one side of the square to the other. The edges are sufficiently wide enough to cater for restaurant spill out seating while allowing direct circulation to and from the foreshore.
The existing jetty is celebrated with a tower at its end. The tower interacts with the elements and provides readings of the natural environment via an illuminated ‘flag’ at the top; water temperature, air temperature and barometer readings. It will be a landmark seen from the city as well as establishing Henley Beach in the collective memory along the coast. , It will become a marker for the public during their pursuit of their various activities; swimming, running, walking cycling. The tower might also include an element that allows the public to ride to the top much in the manner of a seaside funfair.
Tree planting is continued along Main Street to extend the coastal ambience and reading of Henley Square into the centre of the street grid.
Team: Thierry Lacoste, David Stevenson
Landscape Architects: JMD design – Anton James, Riley Field