Southbank’s new green spine

By Danielle Cull

Traditional boulevards of the past have been adorned to celebrate the car, sometimes with perfunctory landscaping used to break up the vast sea of ash felt. Take Melbourne’s St Kilda Road for example, with origins dating back to the 1840’s – the now world famous 8-lane boulevard is lined with landscaped medians breaking up vehicle traffic.

Whilst the boulevard is a beautiful sight and recognised the world over, it could be said that boulevards like these with generous medians could be better used for pedestrians than the current 3m footpath at the roads edge.


What if these roads were reconfigured and the medians were used for meaningful public open space?

It’s not a foreign concept. Perhaps the most notable boulevard transformation is the world famous Times Square in New York. Completed in April 2017, the busy intersections of Broadway between 42nd and 47th Streets are now primarily pedestrianised spaces that welcome more than 45 million visitors annually.

Or on a much smaller scale, take Seattle’s Bell Street for example. The small inner city street has been transformed from a car dominated street into a pedestrian and vehicle shared space.

It seems the City of Melbourne has embraced the cries of the community and created a concept to rejuvenate a busy Southbank street into a much needed key pedestrian link and public open space spine, connecting the Southbank waterfront and St Kilda Roads Arts Precinct.

The Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street Concept Plan has done just that. By reconfiguring the current 4-lane road and wide centre median and shifting the vehicle traffic to one side, means pedestrians and residents get to use what was a meaningless median as purposeful public open space.

Southbank Boulevard - before and after (concept) (source:

Is this the new boulevard where pedestrians are embraced and cars are secondary? Read more about the new open space here:


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