What makes a great place? Lessons from regional towns.

What makes a great place? Lessons from regional towns.

I’ve been spending a lot of time exploring neighbourhoods, particularly out of Sydney, as there are great ideas that can be applied to the many suburbs that make up Sydney to regenerate them while retaining character. The Levee in Maitland, NSW is an award winning urban project featuring the work of Mcgregor Coxall and Chrofi Architects. I was excited to visit this space with Seven Metres Square to see how it would feel, look and work.

The upgraded street works including new paving, planting and outdoor furniture works really well, especially the pedestrianised section area with seating near the Chrofi designed timber box cafe. There was one way car traffic and we felt completely safe sitting on the incredibly robust furniture. The space felt calming even with cars driving past.

There are simple cost effective ideas, like lighting, to create safe and peaceful areas. This laneway had a nice vista leading me through to the riverbank. The seating creates intimate spaces for one or two people to take a break or read a book and gaze towards the water. Once walking along the Riverbank, there are little plaques with short stories about Maitland’s history.

There are three heritage buildings which are lit at night, each building has a unique architectural feature highlighted rather than the whole building lit. The ugly buildings have trees planted in front to hide them!

As I was admiring the gateway design, I noticed some other people doing the same and as I got talking to one of the guys, he turned out to be the director responsible for delivering the 6 year project, Wayne Cone!

Stef and I got the rundown of the project from beginning to now. The street upgrades were first and the gateway second - three buildings were purchased to create the link between street and riverside. The gateway has integrated lighting, an AV system, projectors and an inbuilt structure to hold other heavy elements for events, a cafe/restaurant and toilets.

A visionary project led by a passionate director to improve the area for the community