THE Dandenong Municipal Building and Civic Square won the 'Great Place Award' at the 2015 Victorian Awards for Planning Excellence. The project, which was part of the State Government's 'Revitalising Dandenong' strategy, forms the new public heart of the centre of Dandenong and was developed by the City of Greater Dandenong, with Rush Wright Associates, Lyons Architects and Material Thinking.
The ensemble of community spaces, library, Council services and retail forms a public agora, a market place of community exchange and the primary address of the new city. This ensemble holds at its centre a new civic square, an exciting meeting place to be used day to day, or for large scale urban events. This new Civic Square is a primary feature for the local community. It connects together the city's public realm - from the recently redeveloped railway station to the newly upgraded Lonsdale Street. The major building within the development is a unique low rise Office workplace for over five hundred Council staff and Council library.
This project provides a new civic space for the highly diverse Dandenong community; a place for events, to hang out and to build community pride. Through this urban space, and other integrated new facilities, the project is a catalyst for the transformation of the local community. The architectural ensemble includes the community library that acts as a 'living room' for the city, providing another focus for the community to access new learning resources and new technologies. The Council office provides an exemplary new workplace for Council staff, transforming the way they deliver services into their community.
The social life of the square is the primary driver of sustainable design for this community. The square offers a great many seating and other opportunities for active inhabitation. This seems to have been accepted almost immediately with local people and serves the many cultures already using the square, who value the opportunity to sit in larger groups, and to socialise in truly urban ways which reflect the origins of ancient cultures of many lands who have come to Dandenong. Sustainable design often focusses on raw technical criteria, but here the square functions to evidence Dandenong's commitment to cultural diversity and a welcoming spirit that is the hallmark of Australian public life. Here everyone can have a fair go, and the square creates a unique civic tableau that has already become a vibrant and colourful heart at the centre of the Dandenong community experience.
About the Awards for Planning Excellence
The intention of the Awards for Planning Excellence is to emphasise the important role of the planning profession, and to stimulate public awareness of good planning.
The National Awards for Planning Excellence are the only Australia-wide mechanism for formally commending planners for professional excellence and obtaining peer and public recognition for their work.
Entries that merit an award demonstrate a contribution to liveable communities, excellence in planning and recognition of the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Each year the state and territory Divisions of the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) hold Award programs enabling them to acknowledge excellence, innovation and achievement of the planning profession locally.
All Division Award winners are eligible for and are automatically entered into, the National Awards for Planning Excellence. The National Awards program consists of 12 award categories. Most state and territory Award categories align directly the National Awards.