Ben Walker, of Townsend + Associates Architects, submitted his Pod Market proposal in the 2009 ‘New Push’ competition exhibition for emerging architects in the ACT, Australia. The competition was organized by the Faction group of the ACT Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects. The proposal won first prize. Additional images and architects description after the break.
The center of Australia’s national capital is undergoing rapid growth in the commercial and residential sectors. Whilst this is completely necessary to achieve a city heart that is truly invigorated, there is a real threat that the public open spaces we currently take for granted will be lost to development pressures and community inaction. The potential for this to happen is made all the more real given recent commercial development is inward looking – the mall, which denigrates street life. The success of a public space is dependent on the uses that address it, and the users it serves. In Canberra City more active uses are required at street level to improve the viability of our public realm. This submission looks to provide those uses within the public spaces that are currently given over to services, and back of house. The community, social and recreational uses that cannot find or afford a home within the city (but must be located there because of access to other services) are given the chance to invigorate our public realm, and improve walkable links between different parts of Civic. A ‘market’ atmosphere (akin to the multi-cultural festival on a much lesser scale) can be created from co-location of invigorating activities.
This submission identifies the most under utilized parts of our city. Those spaces that have more to offer – elevated views, shade, convenient access to other facilities, and the potential to be cleaned up to a usable standard. It is easy to disregard these spaces given they normally look grungy and unkempt, but some imagination and elbow grease can do wonders.
The ‘pod market’ looks to establish a new public life within these under utilized zones. Community, recreational and social organizations that need to operate in the city can ‘lease’ a pod for free in exchange for undertaking to upgrade the quality of the public space they are in. By simply using the pod a market atmosphere can be generated that will bring life to the city streets that will hopefully carry over into nearby retail business, parks and main public spaces. The proposal does not attempt a major modification, demolition or upgrade to the city, but rather a small scale intervention that can be the catalyst for further growth. It aims to encourage the essential quality of boutique scale tenancies adjacent to our main pedestrian routes. This must be a sustainable outcome. This submission documents a ‘possible’ outcome for pod market within the courtyard of the Sydney Building. However, as the master plan demonstrates it is simply one space within many that go benefit from some small scale radical thinking.