Manatj Park

Client: Western Australian State Government, delivered by the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority

Status: Completed 2018

Manatj Park is an Urban Forest & Oasis, providing a place of relaxation and respite within the otherwise harsh city environment.

The vision and design of Manatj Park is inspired by the historical wetlands & lakes which existed during Perth’s development and growth. These wetlands created the skewed separation of the City grids that exists and divided the CBD from Northbridge. The design references the seasonal drying of the wetland within the paving design, and symbolically and visually unifies the square as one shared space.

Four subtle shades of warm earthy coloured concrete, with WA Carnarvon river stone, gradiate from light to dark, separated by cobble bands of WA granite. The granite bands and shades of concrete symbolise the contours and forms of the drying lake. The bands and paving flow seamlessly through the square and over the road, allowing the road to fade into the background. This wholistic treatment of the urban square and road imagines a unified public space; the meeting of the two City grids of Perth CDB and Northbridge.

The unified square was a crucial design objective. To reinforce this unity, two sculptural ‘Ribbon’ structures weave their way through the space, connecting both sides of the square. The ‘Ribbons’ provide lighting for the square with integrated catenary lights, their form and height creates a false ceiling within the space, and in turn a more intimate, human scale amongst the towering buildings which frame the square. The two ‘Ribbons’ represent and celebrate the coming together of Noongar and European cultures, dating back to the settlement of Perth.

This meeting of cultures is further symbolised within the ellipse of trees which frame and embrace the park. Native Flooded Gum trees wrap around the Northern side of the square signifying the indigenous Noongar culture, while Deciduous Ornamental Pear Trees on southern half of the ellipse signifies European culture. The trees densify within the ellipse creating an urban forest, whilst the Melaleuca located at the lowest point of the ‘lake’, symbolise the last of the water as the lake dries out.

A series of ‘Islands’ within the drying lake provide seating opportunities and refuge for users. These islands take the form of sweeping concrete seating walls and sculptural timber benches which frame turf embankments or garden beds. These islands are positioned to provide the benefits of winter sun in the cooler months, and offer unique meeting points and places to relax.

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