Boyd Community Hub is an oasis of community nurturing in an inhospitable setting on City Road surrounded by a forest of high rise apartment buildings. The City of Melbourne valiantly supports interventions to breathe life into this space. This part of Southbank is perhaps a better example than Docklands of the challenges of retrofitting community infrastructure into a high density area developed without the architectural flair of many Docklands buildings. The area, at this time, is devoid of green space.
This weekend I spent some time watching the world go by from Boyd. Access for pedestrians to the community hub is via the hostile remnant realm under Kingsway. Many inter-state and overseas visitors were making their way to the Farmers Market across all approaches to the intersection.
Port has the Graham Street underpass/overpass. Built to create access to the Westgate Bridge, it displaced a world of milkbars, butchers, pubs and a ‘rockery’ where people used to gather as described on the Port Melbourne Historical Society website.
By the late eighties the underpass looked pretty bleak but those pillars were just right for the enigmatic graffiti that was found around Port at that time.
The skate park brought some activity to the skate park – activity that has been seen but, in a way, invisible. Just compare the design environment of the skate park in St Kilda with the environs of this park! An endless and expensive game of attrition has been played for years between taggers and the Council in a no-win cycle of erasing, tagging and re-erasing.
An ever growing underworld of tram commuters pass this way each day – their footsteps shaping new pathways through the underpass.
Bit by bit and piece by piece, the Port Phillip Council has been adding strong footpaths, improving lighting and adding more ‘green’ to the underpass. Now it is facilitating a street art project for the underpass and asking us what we think of two concepts.
Looking forward to the next phase in the life of the underpass. Our city has swathes of underpasses waiting for re-imagining.