Cleveland Town Centre - Urban Design and Streetscapes

by John Mongard Landscape Architects
Project Type: Regional town Revitilisation, Mixed use centre, Public Space Renewal.
Location: Cleveland, Redland Shire, Queensland
Client: Redland Shire Council
Date: 1983 - 2000
Major Design Consultant: John Mongard Landscape Architects
Collaborators: Redland Shire Council, 10 artists and sculptors, over 300 community people
  • Stage One (The Main Street): $2.5 million (completed on budget)
  • Stage Two (The Town Square and harbour Link): $1.2 million (completed on budget)
  • Stage Three (Harbour Mixed Use Precinct): $1.5 + million
  • Ongoing Stages: Remaining grid of streetscapes completed by 2004

Cleveland is a town currently enjoying a renaissance of civic life and economic prosperity. There are few towns in South East Queensland that have so successfully managed the fusion of contemporary development with the traditional Main Street. Cleveland is a tangible example that good urban design can be a catalyst for the long term economic and cultural revitalisation of towns.

A Ten Year Vision

In 1984 John Mongard and Shire Planner Gary White sketched a vision to develop the fairly nondescript town centre of Cleveland into a thriving harbour side capital, just as it had been intended one hundred years earlier by Governor Gibbs. The Shire Planning Scheme, the Cleveland Development Control Plan, the Cleveland Design Guidelines and the Collaborative Placemaking Catalogue were all documents which establish the urban design framework for reshaping the town. Ten years later, Cleveland had built its harbour, had connected it to a civic main street and a town square, and had created a pedestrian friendly core. Cleveland has established itself as a strong regional centre for business and recreation, with a mixed use living areas within its core.

The town has been reshaped by its own community: local people created its vision, local craftsmen and artists moulded its details and over ten thousand people visit the town on market day to enjoy the pleasures of its shady streets.

The Blueprint for Placemaking

1n 1994 John Mongard Landscape Architects and Redland Shire Council wrote guidelines for assisting developers to integrate their work into the fabric of the successful new Main Street, which was completed in October 1993.

By 1997, over $30 million worth of new building work has occurred in Cleveland, repaying Council's initial investment into the Main Street by fifteen times. The development has worked into the traditional country town character of Cleveland, with a continuous thread of urban principles binding new buildings to old. Over twenty new buildings have been built using the guidelines, with continuous paving and landscape treatments, and using the Cleveland range of street furniture, designed by John Mongard with industrial designer David Shaw. Rental values in Cleveland have been substantially bolstered by the civic improvements, and in 1996 a major Coles development was attracted to the towns harbour side precinct, thus consolidating the towns regional economic role.

In the ongoing years, developer led streetscapes have been established in three-quarters of the town, thus showing that a partnership can work between business and local authority in achieving both goals of private investment and those of creating public life.

A Town Square Worth Waiting For

Cleveland Town in earlier days had been located on its scenic promontory facing the bay. In relocating to flatter ground, it became separated from the water by a kilometre of tidal mud and a six metre change in topography. Additionally, commerce located itself increasingly on strips out of town, and visitors bypassed Cleveland on their way to the islands.

John Mongard sketched a Town Square with a view to a potential harbour in 1983. A link study by Terrain Pty Ltd was completed in 1991. Design and documentation of the Square was completed in 1986.

Redland Shire Council has devoted itself in the last fifteen years to overcoming all these obstacles. The first catalyst was the civic refurbishment of the towns centre: Bloomfield Street. The second was the creation of a working harbour. The third phase was the building of a town square and harbour link, completed in 1997. Finally, a mixed use shopping and living precinct was built around the harbour.

The scheme for the town square revolved around turning a dead end street into an active town hub, with a clear view of water and boats. The view of the Bay was the final link in tying the town to the sea through the use of water : four major fountains have been designed by John Mongard along the Main Street to create this thematic link.

The Cleveland Library Square was designed to allow the gathering of over five hundred people within a car free civic space. The successful street markets also required room to expand. A cafe and restaurant were designed to provide life to the space, overlooking a large cascading fountain.

The square was integrated to establish best practice in meeting universal access standards. This posed a significant challenge, with a six metre level change between the harbour and the new library. The main design intervention is thus a serpentine path through colourful hedge gardens, allowing disabled and elderly residents as easy walk into town. A Brail trail is built into the entire patterning of the ground, which also features bronze man - holes designed by artists, and a mosaic to the main square which has optic stars lighting up small encrusted artworks. There are six public art installations in the space. Primary School Children from Cleveland created bronze tiles set into seating walls along the path.

An Artful Town

Cognitive mapping and community consultations undertaken by John Mongard in 1984 showed that Cleveland was perceived to be boring for its visitors and lacking in any theme or attractions. It also become clear that a strong arts and crafts tradition had built up in the region and that this could be a way of achieving the enrichment of the town's civic spaces.

In 1993, John Mongard Landscape Architects and Redland Shire Council project managed the installation of eight public art projects as part of the improvements to the Main Street. The process created a role for cultural and community art projects in the Shire, and within a year a new unit was created within Council. The Cultural Development Unit, then went on to co-manage the six town square public art projects in 1997, after John Mongard developed briefs and established themes and budgets as part of the civic works.

Four sculptural fountains have been designed by John Mongard, each one a collaboration between designers and artists and poets. Over 25 artful collaborations have been built in Cleveland, each one building on the theme of connecting the town, the bay and the Countryside. This makes Cleveland a major national focus for regionally focused public arts outside of the capital cities. Currently, Redland Shire Council take many tours a year from government, students and interest groups wanting to know about Cleveland's public art and poetry.

Public art projects have been a conscious mix of commissioned works and community art. Involvement of minority groups has been the focus, with place being given for interpretation of Cleveland's identity by aboriginal people (such as the famous Oodgeroo Noonunccal), by the elderly, through poetry, and by young children, through banners, plaques, poetry and the playground.

Cleveland's Main Street evolves into its Community

Bloomfield Street was a wide country road with humble low scale shops and a avenue of sprawling red poinciana trees. A masterplan created a ring road around the civic centre, and once this was achieved, the main street was refurbished. The wide footpaths have been turned into shade promenades, with plentiful seating of timber and sandstone and a sculpture and poetry trail to entice visitors to stay and wander.

The main street and the towns main anchor store were badly connected, and the designs created a visible link with an active heart, comprising of a free-form performance lawn and a sculptural playground.

Previously, there were no facilities for children in the town. John Mongard collaborated with four sculptors to create a themed play area for 5 - 10 year olds, based on the idea of Cleveland as a 'salad bowl'. The playground now has a catchment of regional size, with people travelling across Brisbane for day trips. The street life of the town has been improved by the opening of outdoor cafes adjacent to the playground, where parents can sit and watch their children frolic amongst the play sculptures.

The Library Square has become a popular destination for teenagers, who love to 'hang out' in the generous paved amphitheatre. The space ebbs and flows, providing a lunchtime refuge for workers, and inspiring the pub to open out into the square to create an active nightlife precinct.

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