Bourke St Mall, Melbourne


After many years of planning major works were undertaken to replace tram tracks between Elizabeth and Russell streets and a $10,million upgrade of Bourke St Mall in time for the 2005 Commonwealth Games.

Professor Rob Adams Director of Culture and City Projects for The City of Melbourne and Greg Hocking from Land Design Partnership lead the Bourke St Mall design team with Veronica Furnier –Tosco as Project Manager for City of Melbourne. Canteri Bros Constructions undertook the overall construction of the Mall.

To minimise disruption to the city the 300m x 6.6 m project was undertaken in three stages over three weekends beginning after the last tram at 11.30 pm on Friday until 4 am on Monday when new tracks and roadway was completed and the trams commenced on time to service the busy city precinct.

The City of Melbourne commissioned artist David Humphries to interpret the design for the Tram Way Zone. His company Public Art Squad has extensive experience with the construction industry producing large-scale terrazzo and mosaic works for major public developments such as Darling Harbour, his collaborative design approach brought to the project a unique artistic vision

Using a broadcast stone mosaic terrazzo technique he led a team of 5 artists, using 20 tonnes of decorative stones, shells and mirror in implementing the design.

Working in tandem with Frank Schipano and his team of concreters from Schifer Constructions who laid and screeded the 330 cubic meters of 70 MPA Boral ready mix concrete to the artists requirements.

Undertaken on an inflexible program in the Melbourne winter the project experienced many stresses due to weather and rain. However the construction site was an inspiring collaboration of teamwork and project management, which enabled the City and Yarra Trams to keep on schedule.

The public nature of the installation was akin to a Performance Art Event that entertained and intrigued the many weekend visitors to the Mall.

Harry Van Der Veen from Pro Grind Melbourne undertook the arduous task of grinding back the road surface to expose the decorative aggregates that make up the design. After several months of grinding from midnight till dawn the 2000sq meters of artwork were revealed. The surface had to meet strict slip factor and maintenance requirements.

Now completed the work is subtly integrated into the fabric of the streetscape, it references many of Melbourne’s traditional mosaic works, the grid design of the city and vibration of the Australian landscape in a contemporary way.

The focus areas are at the tram stops where people find time to contemplate the stones of various sizes and colours. With the effects of light and rain further revealing the rich texture of the design it is a surface that changes constantly.

An integral piece of urban design, an artwork to be walked on by the public.