What characterises these projects is a successful merging of small capital works and a program of activation through the ‘Inhabit’ initiative which was recently recognised with an award by the Queensland Chapter of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.
Jacob’s Ladder and King Edward Park sit high above the CBD and were an underutilised pedestrian link to neighbouring Spring Hill. Revitalising the existing park and heritage stairs has returned a significant piece of public space back to the city. Through the removal of a traffic slip lane, a new plaza space has been created at the base of the stairs featuring the iconic Forme Del Mito sculptures, first purchased by Council after Expo 88 and previously located in King George Square. Other elements of the revitalisation included landscaping improvements within King Edward Park, sandblasting of the stairs and upgrade to the balustrade, and improved pedestrian lighting.
“The rejuvenation of King Edward Park and Jacob’s Ladder demonstrates how Council’s Vibrant Laneways program can take forgotten CBD areas and use clever, creative design to transform them into popular CBD destinations,” Chair of Neighbourhood Planning and Development Assessment, Cr Amanda Cooper said.
A stairway to heaven
With views to and from the retail heart of the city, the dramatic landscape of the Jacob’s Ladder space is further enhanced by a creative art installation, including light projection. Internationally acclaimed Maltese artist, Norbet Francis Attard, was commissioned to transform the Jacob’s Ladder stairs and has created a red carpet stairway to ‘heaven’, when viewed from below. From above, it is a rainbow coloured invitation to step down into the city, with long views down Edward Street to the Kangaroo Point cliffs across the river. At night, the stair landings are illuminated with projected images drawn from local historical themes evoking a strong sense of place, discovery and intrigue.
This Jacob’s Ladder installation was the first Inhabit initiative for 2009 – a program of permanent and temporary public art and activation events. By its very nature, the works ‘inhabit’ the city and seek to engage with city residents, workers and visitors alike. Previously, a large floating head in Burnett Lane, a ‘greened’ astro-turf laneway, and spaces lit by projection have created debate and interest in the public realm of Brisbane’s CBD.
The Inhabit initiative helps identify those forgotten spaces that also become places for further intervention through capital works programs such as Burnett Lane. The lane runs parallel to the Queen Street Mall and is the next Vibrant Laneways and Small Scale Project, to be delivered in 2010. After working with traders, building owners and other key stakeholders, Council is currently drafting a plan to breathe new life into the service laneway by encouraging a diverse alternative to the retail centre of the Queen Street Mall. Capital works, creative lighting and activation are all part of this ‘catalyst’ project for the Vibrant Laneways and Small Spaces program, which is due to commence in 2010.