RPS Landscape Architecture Team Wins Urban Design Award

09 Aug 2018

RPS helps Aria deliver highly curated urban experience celebrating Brisbane’s unique lifestyle.

Fish Lane is a demonstration of what is possible when once-forgotten city spaces are loved and valued to contribute to the culture and amenity of the urban environment. Through a series of purposeful laneway interventions, championed by the RPS Landscape Architecture team on behalf of Aria Property Group, Fish Lane delivers a highly curated urban experience celebrating Brisbane's unique lifestyle as an outdoor city. Located in South Brisbane, Fish Lane was once a dark, derelict back-street which has been innovatively transformed into an iconic destination for dining, arts and culture.

The design embraced four main key principles:

  • To create a safe and legible pedestrian focussed streetscape
  • To create desirable and inspiring subtropical spaces and places that are responsive to Brisbane’s climate
  • To provide a canvas for sustainable innovation and creativity
  • To provide a venue for local economy to thrive through distinct niche retail and commercial spaces

Parallel to the major urban spine of Melbourne Street, Fish Lane is a complementary piece of public realm that, in size, scale and function poses an interesting, place-rich alternative to Melbourne Street. Fish Lane adds to the South Brisbane urban fabric rather than competing with the existing culture rich offerings. Fish Lane is the result of a detailed urban design process that commenced in 2014 where Aria Property Group and RPS completed the “Austin” residential tower at the intersection of Grey Street and Fish Lane. Council’s initial collaboration with the development community to progress and deliver a shared vision for a unique and vibrant public laneway then commenced. RPS undertook several studies of the surrounding public realm and the impact of scale and built form on the use of space.

Through visual demonstration of these findings to the client and through collaborative discussions with Brisbane City Council and interested stakeholders, the purposeful evolution of the landscape could be led by RPS to ensure an inspired and vibrant laneway experience was delivered. The laneway is activated by regular cross block linkages, pocket parks, restaurants, bars, public art work and creative events – feeding through to the existing fabric of South Brisbane and transforming a “forgotten” space in the city.

The laneway contributes to the continued evolution of Brisbane City Council’s vibrant laneways initiative as well as RPS and Aria’s vision to redefine and master plan an organic laneway within the concrete jungle of South Brisbane and this marks Fish Lane as an excellent example of a landscape which has resulted from private and public interests partnering to deliver an outstanding piece of public infrastructure that benefits the wider Brisbane community, while encouraging and fostering successful business opportunities for local retailers.

Fish Lane demonstrates how working with stakeholders effectively and creatively can lead to a strong placemaking framework that is critical to the long-term success of the precinct. RPS and ARIA were pivotal in the curation of spaces within Fish lane, master planning the retail spaces to evoke a sense of place and contribute to social and economic success. RPS and ARIA believe the curation of these retail spaces is fundamental in the success of urban spaces and should be a new role for Landscape Architects during the master planning stage.

The flexible nature of Fish Lane allows the space to become an ephemeral, ever changing landscape which supports festivals and events such as the Fish Lane Festival, which sees over 8,500 attendees enjoy some of Brisbane’s best operators and live entertainers. It has positively contributed to the cultural and economic sustainability of this South Brisbane precinct.

Contributing to this dynamic landscape is a diverse artscape consisting of over 35 pieces of art including sculptures, murals, landscaping and lighting, combining permanent, temporary, and changing artworks, the strategy creates a destination and experiential immersion for audiences seeking out vibrant public places. The experiential and discovery nature of the laneway unearths forgotten stories of the lane’s industrial history and Mr George Fish: the laneway’s namesake and proprietor of the old Fish Steam Laundry; educating and informing the public of the site’s rich history.

With the predicted forecast of South Brisbane’s population to increase by 312.5 percent in the next 20 years, public infrastructure becomes invaluable to the community. Fish Lane demonstrates how landscape architects can recreate and revitalise forgotten spaces into thriving viable public spaces that enhance quality of life for the wider community and expand the accessibility for social interaction.

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