During April, work was completed on the redevelopment of the northern end of the iconic Chesser Street, a popular pedestrian route between Grenfell Street and French Street, Adelaide.
In what was an upgrade of public space initiated and funded by the private landowners, Jensen PLUS was engaged to create a pedestrian focussed laneway that is safe, vibrant and provides a connection between other key city streets and destinations.
“Chesser Street has long been a popular connection between Grenfell and Pirie Streets but the northern end had effectively become a loading zone for vehicles and didn’t capitalise on the attractive vines overhead,” says Jensen PLUS Associate David Barone.
“By undertaking these improvements, the space now supports safe pedestrian movement and has created an interface with adjacent buildings that can accommodate activation such as outdoor dining — and we expect will be popular for wedding photos”.
Chesser Street is an important civic space that provides pedestrian access to the state’s Births, Deaths and Marriages Office, located on the ground floor of the Chesser House building.
“The Births, Deaths and Marriages Office has been and will continue to be a congregation point for families at various stages of life, well into the future. So it’s vital Chesser Street can accommodate people in a welcoming and safe environment,” says David.
Jensen PLUS was involved in the project from its inception through to delivery.
“We were asked by the client to facilitate the conversion of the space into a pedestrian environment which we initiated by firstly preparing a visual concept with perspective imagery and presenting this to the elected members of Adelaide City Council.”
This process also required extensive engagement with individual elected members.
Natalia Gonzalez, Landscape Architect, worked on the project through the design documentation phase.
“Once the council’s support was secured and the project endorsed, we worked collaboratively with Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec (WGA) and council staff to prepare detailed designs and documentation through the whole process to tender review and contract administration advice,” says Natalia.
The upgrades included regrading and resurfacing of the street to create a pedestrian friendly surface that is accessible by all while accommodating stormwater infrastructure; modification of car parks and implementation of removeable bollards to prioritise safe pedestrian movement; and importantly the installation of a new arbour structure while retaining the existing vines.
“Chesser Street holds much historical value in Adelaide and its vines and arbour structure are undoubtedly an iconic part of the street,” says Natalia.
“As such, the upgrade retained the vines but saw the replacement of the arbour structure to ensure its longevity.”
To facilitate the replacement of the arbour structure, temporary scaffolding was utilised to support the vines while the old structure was removed.
The new structure was then installed and fixed to the buildings using the same points as the old structure and the vines reinstated on the new arbour.
Above: The former street posed pedestrian safety risks.
The project didn’t come without its challenges though.
“There were distinct challenges encountered during the design delivery and some compromises made for the outcomes to ensure a certain level of quality was achieved,” says Natalia.
“This required negotiation with council and utility providers to agree on solutions for working around extensive infrastructure under the road surface.”
Firstly, the regrading of the road saw the surface level raised to meet that of the footpath, which brought about challenges in accommodating stormwater run off.
“But, in every challenge is an opportunity and this allowed us to be creative with the visual and aesthetic elements and finish of the road surface.
“Further to this, once we started construction we found that the concrete footings of existing buildings restricted the original plans so we needed to modify and negotiate variations with the clients.”
David adds that privately funded projects can sometimes present challenges in bringing the asset owner — in the case Adelaide City Council — along on the journey.
“It was a learning process for council as they hadn’t previously encountered a situation where private landowners had requested to undertake work on public land,” he adds.
“We are pleased that the council saw the benefits of the project and resolved to close a portion of Chesser Street between Grenfell and French Streets to accommodate the upgrades.
“The project has delivered significant enhancements to the public realm at little to no cost to Adelaide City ratepayers but with broad community benefit.”
Chris Redmond of Chesser Properties (who partly funded the project as the previous owner of 77 Grenfell Street* with the support of WIN IPG Adelaide Office Trust, owner of the neighbouring 95 Grenfell Street) says they are thrilled with the outcomes of the project.
“The team at Jensen PLUS not only delivered an exceptional outcome for Chesser Street, our tenants and city pedestrians, but they ensured the entire process was efficient.
“From concepts and consultation through to design detail and construction, we couldn’t be more pleased with the results.”
David adds, “This project is an ideal case study for future projects where adjoining land owners invest in redevelopment of public spaces, which benefits their customers when they visit the building while providing a community benefit as well”.
“We envisage a lot of opportunities for this space in the future and look forward to seeing how it evolves and contributes to people’s enjoyment of the city.”
Photography: Brian Du
*77 Grenfell Street was sold by Chesser Properties during the construction phase of the project.