Scarborough: The Makings of a Creative Village

by John Mongard Landscape Architects

Scarborough was a top holiday destination in the 1920s - 1940s in Brisbane. Over time the village became run down and shops left the esplanade (in the race for visitors, losing out to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast).

In a bid to revive the village and support its traders, Redcliffe City Council undertook a community planning project and hired John Mongard Landscape Architects (JMLA), to work with the community in developing a vision and a strategy. In May 1998, JMLA set-up shop in a vacant video store and ran a community ideas shop front over a period of two weeks. The outcome was a plan which seeks to make Scarborough the creative hub of Redcliffe City.

Project Vision

The collaborative project seeks to build dreams into the public realm. It challenges the notion that streets are just channels for cars and drains. It offers up ideas which will give meaning to the place Scarborough, and if successful, will help give birth to a more creative period in Redcliffe City. Like dropping a pebble into the sea; the making and crafting of Landsborough Esplanade with artful purpose, may create a long-term cultural ripple in the lives of this community.

Project Outcomes

Stage one of the Scarborough Creative Village project has now been built, with a dramatic transformation of a run-down gun-barrel road into a neighbourly green heart.

Council invested over $400,000 in the new streetscape, which features:

  • One of the first sustainable main streets in Queensland (utilising water recycling from roads to gardens, natural and soft stormwater systems with gravel filters, low maintenance endemic plants and low energy locally fabricated urban elements).
  • Kerbs have been removed from one half of the main street, a radical move toward the future where access for the aged and disabled will become a crucial priority. Kerbs have been replaced by boulder barriers and customised concrete bollards specially designed for parallel and angled parking bay situations.
  • A complete customised range of furniture and lights were designed by JMLA in association with Antworks and Brian Stendyk Architects. Seats feature recycled timbers which were prepared by partially abled people from the Endeavour Foundation as part of a fabrication package supplied by David Shaw from Street and Garden Furniture.
  • The furniture has been fashioned to create a unique and distinctive range of sustainable street micro-architecture. The qualities embodied in the design of the range are: aesthetic character that will allow the furniture pieces to sit comfortably within multiple urban environments, repetition of standardized units to create a cohesive and integrated design, variation of the material components to suit the urban environment in which the urban element sits, a furniture range designed to enable the use of personalization through collaboration with local artists, and the potential utilization of both unskilled community labour base and skilled local manufacturing base.
  • Low life cycle material cost: energy utilization in both construction and manufacturing has been designed to reduce life cycle costs within the streetscape to a minimum. Serviceability through readily available and locally made materials as well as the selection of key environmentally friendly materials has been fundamental to looking at the furniture and gardens in a progressive manner.
  • A large number of native plants (over 125 trees and 3400 shrubs ) were planted, including ex-ground Bauhinia's and Paperbark species, and a mix of riverine associated plantings for the dry creek beds. Planting design focuses on JMLA's blur technique: melding three plants to create a fourth colour and texture effect, much like pointillism in painting.
  • The straight road alignment has been meandered in order to slow vehicles and to create usable pockets of public space along the footpath. The street allows for lots of space for outdoor dining and shady sitting. Terrace sitting walls feature inbuilt timber seats.
  • JMLA collaborated with Aboriginal artist Delores McDonald and UAP to develop a public art strategy for Scarborough. The placemaking process has involved a series of workshops and interviews with local high school students, youth, aboriginal residents and the arts and crafts community. The outcomes of this creative talking includes concepts for: a stainless steel and recycled timber entry sculpture nestled into the gardens of the village edge, a cast aluminium interpretive trail set into the new footpath which picks up a number of Scarborough's cultural histories in a contemporary and integrated way, and a mosaic feature wall which will focus colour and detail in the village's main intersection and continues the rich mosaic work of the old Scarborough Hotel facade.
  • A number of sculptures and artworks are proposed to be built as part of short-term works. The first stage is currently about to commence with the carving of sixty-nine aboriginal designs and text elements, to be cast in aluminium and set into the footpath as part of the towns built-in interpretive trail.
Project Summary
Client: Redcliffe City Council
Landscape Architects and Community Planners: John Mongard Landscape Architects
Collaborating Artists: Delores McDonald, UAP, John Mongard
Furniture Design and Project Management: John Mongard, Street and Garden
Furniture Fabrication: Furniture, Piccolini Creations
Collaborating Designers: Brian Steendyk Architects, Antworks

The design is a quiet benchmark for sustainable practice in townscape improvements. The next stage of works involves installing the reflective light poles designed by JMLA, constructing a part of the interpretive trail and building sculptural median islands to slow vehicles on route to the pub.

For Further Information Contact:
John Mongard Landscape Architects
Ph: (07) 3844 1932
Fax: (07) 3844 3250