March 2013 / Competition: Henley Square Urban Design Competition

Henley Square Urban Design Competition, City of Charles Sturt, Adelaide, 2013.
Slip + Slack. Collaboration with Elena Vanz, Toby Horrocks, Mikhail Rodrick, Welan Chu, (Melbourne, Australia)

Morphing Surfaces   Slip and Slack brings a bold new identity to Henley Square and amplifies its current advantages. The existing condition of Henley Beach becomes the starting point for Slip and Slack. Slip and Slack refers to the differently angled fore-dune and hind-dune inclinations of the ubiquitous sand dunes on the coastline. This inspires the sectional profile of the new performative landscape, formed through pushing/pulling and cutting/filling the landscape according to the forces that flow through Henley Square. Just like the dunes are formed as a result of ongoing flows of wind and water, the new Henley Square landscape is formed through multiple fluxes that influence the site. The existing edge condition of Henley Beach is abstracted into bands of Water, Sand, Green, and Urban. These conceptual bands are then pushed and pulled to create weaving edges that are transient and overlapping. This encourages new programs and unique ways for the public to engage with the new landscape informed by the existing conditions. The purpose of these actions is to encourage mixed spatial conditions and a mix of ecological ecotones, which break the dichotomy of ‘natural’ and ‘urban’. The overlaps, oscillations, weavings and juxtapositions of the transitionary zones between the bands encourage hybrid models of engaging with the landscape and the urban in an unexpected way. This conceptual framework is also extended into the existing jetty, connecting the water to Henley Square in a much more integrated manner. 

Performing Surfaces
   These operations are to help Henley Square transform into a public space that is beyond a pleasant place to be. The morphing amplifies and accentuates performative aspects of the landscape, such as the mound acting as windbreak, viewing platform, play area and amphitheater. A depression collects and filters storm water through its form, which also allows wetland to emerge, bringing new ecology into the square. The dune-like forms are orientated according to the interactions and interrelationships with views, the sun path and the prevailing southwesterly winds. The overall landscape also becomes a place where ecological processes are expressed through forms that incorporate ecological awareness, which engages visitors and the community, making it beyond a mere aesthetic exercise.  

Articulating Surfaces with Vegetation   The new edge of Slip and Slack reworks the existing concrete sea wall to accommodate push and pull actions. The meandering edges of the new seawall are embedded into the landscape, transforming the current straight-edged configuration into a more subtle morphing surface, whilst maintaining storm protection. The peaks of the new terrain will be protected from erosion with strategic vegetation. Shrubs such as Olearia axillaries (Coastal Daisy-Bush), Acacia longifolia var. sophorae (Coastal Wattle) and Myoporum insulare (Common Boobialla) growing up to around up to 2 meters high are planted in the hind-dune areas and Spinifex hirsutus (Rolling Spinifex) reaching up to 0.25 meter populating the fore-dunes.

Education through Re-Vegetation   The strategic vegetation plan will plug into, and take advantage of the existing “Henley Beach to Tennyson Coastal Reserve - Vegetation Management Plan”** becoming a proving ground for re-vegetation, that engages local high schools and primary schools such as Mt. Carmel Secondary College, Norwood Morialta Senior, Star of the Sea Primary, Grange Primary and Fulham Gardens for example. In addition, culturally significant Norfolk Island pine trees will provide wind control and much needed shade as they are dispersed and concentrated across the new landscape.
** Cordingley, S. P. and Petherick, C. E., 2005, Vegetation Management Plan Henley Beach to Tennyson Coastal Reserve, City of Charles Sturt, Adelaide 

Program, Circulation and Hard Surfaces   The new landscape helps moderate the speed and type of circulation through the Square such as meandering, walking, running and cycling. It encourages new ways of experiencing and framing the juxtaposed compositions of nature and urban in the new Henley Square, and provides new vantage points to the existing heritage. Hard surface materials used in the Square will incorporate porosity to control water runoff, retaining or directing water away to the newly created wetland for filtration by vegetation. Maritime-inspired vertical poles puncture, connect and complement the horizontal landscape and connect the multiple layers of operations. Fixed kiosks at strategic locations contain programs such as information display, vending, security and storage etc. Mobile kiosks can be deployed in different configurations for various events providing shade and places of gathering. The walls of the kiosks also form a canvas to show the work of local contemporary artists.

Transforming the Square and the Jetty   In addition, the jetty is incorporated into the overall transformation of the square. Its axis is extended to form a new boulevard connecting with Main Street and a new terminus is proposed on the water end. The terminus on the water takes the form of a loop that elevates people into a higher plane and allows them to descend closer to the water. A proposed resurfacing visually connects the old and new, its pattern reinforcing the oscillations of Slip and Slack. The jetty is also retrofitted with photovoltaic panels and playful micro wind-turbines that provide shade, shelter and power for the square’s lighting and water filtration pumping infrastructure. Ultimately, Slip and Slack reveals the interactions, tensions and interconnectedness of the landscape and the urban, forming a memorable new dynamic surface that fosters diversity and openness in a revitalised Henley Square.

© axu studio 2010-2024.
Updated April 2024.  
Using Format