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Allara Street Kiosks

 

The Allara Street Kiosks are a set of three small buildings providing retail tenancies for local, independent businesses. Below a cluster of mature trees and the face of an eight-storey commercial building, we looked to reimagine the site’s scale and landscape – to humanise a corner of Canberra’s central business district, and create a personal, welcoming public space. 

 

The final stage of our Allara Street masterplanning work for Molonglo, the kiosks neighbour one another in a tranquil landscape of washed concrete aggregate, seating, pot plants and Australian native species. The space between the kiosks is as important as the buildings themselves – interspersed with nooks and benches beneath a canopy of existing trees, it is a place for people to stop, rest, eat, drink and socialise.   


Brought forward from the street’s colonnade, each kiosk offers its tenants a 360-degree shop-frontage and a number of entrances; while the many windows, opening configurations and folding door panels allow the buildings to move with the seasons and the needs of the occupant. Working with Allara Street’s businesses in mind, our landscape design was informed by our conversations with the site’s existing tenants – instead of detracting from the existing facade, we looked to create a small, open space that would bring people to the district.

The kiosks were created with the belief that small is beautiful; both aesthetically and ideologically. Their size makes them more accessible to independent and experimental operators that are rarely accorded an entire building; a shop or studio that might otherwise be closed off is made visible. Their scale creates an intimacy that allows for more informal and accessible interactions with visitors, passersby and neighbours, and a greater exchange between plants and architecture. Together, these elements create more layers, diversity and granularity to an otherwise quiet street.

The kiosks tread lightly on the existing surrounds, intersecting established exotic trees and breaking down existing perimeters with new, mostly native, plantings; creating a permeable yet intimate public outdoor space with many little nooks. The landscaping references the many Brutalist public spaces in Canberra by incorporating washed exposed aggregate cast concrete.

Molonglo’s work over the years has taught us to place importance on the smallest of interventions. While modest compared to our other projects, we have dedicated the same level of care as we would a large project. We hope they will be proof of what small yet considered development can achieve.

Title: Allara Street Kiosks
Location: Canberra, Australia
Year: 2019
Client: Molonglo
Collaborators: Pro Plant Supplies, Mark Paine Landscaping, Eifer Construction and more
Photographs: Anthony Basheer and U-P
Type: Retail & Commercial, Public Realm, landscape
Status: Completed

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