Overall Landscape Architect
CJ Arms & Associates
Decibel Architecture were approached in 2015 to design and masterplan a new residential community on a greenfield site located on Melbourne’s western fringe. The brief was to fully integrate the outstanding natural features of the site, and to deliver an intelligent, sustainable and connected masterplan for 800 homes, which will become known as Scenic Botanica.
The key feature of the site is a natural gorge and creek which traverses the site from north to south and flows in the adjacent reservoir to the south. The gorge creates a topographical divide between the eastern and western halves of the site, the great challenge and opportunity with this project has been to harness this beautiful feature and use it to bring the site planning and ultimately the community, together.
Located within the suburb of Melton, on Melbourne’s outer fringe, Scenic Botanica takes its cues from the natural landscape and existing water systems. Currently used as pasture, this is set to become a key development area within the rapidly expanding area.
House lots of varying sizes in discreet precincts are interwoven with pedestrian walking tracks, each directing residents and locals alike to the rehabilitated gorge for rest and recreation. The masterplan includes provision for a neighbourhood enriched by sporting facilities and community shared spaces. Linking these elements together is the gorge which is envisioned as a linear park featuring waterbodies, creeks, pools, walking tracks, bridges, sports fields and passive and active recreation areas.
The Scenic Botanica proposition puts nature at the heart of every home in the development. It deploys considered, intricate and simple networks of water, of landscape, of pedestrian activity and community interaction across the landscape.
Water is embedded within our response to site, with the aim for a water balanced community to be achieved. All surface water will be captured and re-used, grey water is plumbed to all homes, and the open spaces within the subdivision act as pre-treatment devices for run-off water within and without the site.
Working collaboratively with renowned water scientists CJ Arms, a sensitive and strategic approach to water catchment and treatment has been developed in order to drastically reduce the suburb’s demand for water.
Runoff water is collected from houses and hard surfaces and filtered through a series of rain gardens and reed beds. From there, the water will be stored in large underground water tanks
beneath the two sports fields. These tanks will then be used to irrigate public landscaped areas, manage peak rainfall events, and ensure that the green spaces and vegetation in the suburb remain healthy and robust throughout the year.
The creek running through the gorge is fed from a large catchment area extending beyond the project site to the north, and encompasses an area of over 40 hectares. CJ Arms modelling has shown that the rehabilitation of the gorge will ensure, that not only surface rainwater collected on our site, but all water entering the catchment will be filtered and naturally treated through specifically designed reed beds within the gorge. When treated water then enters the adjacent reservoir, it will be cleaner and contain less particulates than when it entered the community.
The ultimate success of the masterplan will lie in the ability of the 800 homes in Scenic Botanica to become a community. Gathering Spaces are needed for communities to interact and to this end we have designed a series of locations both linked to the linear park and distributed throughout the site.
The community will have access to small scale playgrounds for young families, off leash areas for running pets, passive recreation areas and a range of active facilities including two oval sports fields, tennis + netball courts, cricket nets, two dedicated sporting pavilions and a myriad of other spaces for rest, recreation and enjoyment.
Identifying a naturally formed outdoor amphitheatre within the gorge has allowed for the creation of a gathering space, and will be linked to adjacent BBQ & picnic areas by a network of walking and cycling trails.
The need for a multipurpose community building that can host gatherings, local clubs and weddings has been identified as critical for a community of this size.
A site for a function space has been reserved in a prime location on a peninsula of land with views to both the gorge and reservoir, which will attract community members both within the suburb and from afar.
In addition to undertaking the masterplan for the community, Decibel Architecture have developed design guidelines to which all houses within Scenic Botanica are required to adhere to.
These guidelines ensure that a high level of design quality is maintained when individual lots are developed, and that sound passive and sustainable design principles are employed. They have been developed to facilitate the adoption of resource saving initiatives such as photo-voltaic and solar hot water systems, ensure house designs are internally planned to maximise light and amenity, and promote connections with the exterior environment.
Where lots are located adjacent to the gorge we have developed specific guidelines that require an enhanced level of sensitivity including building siting, construction methods and materials. These strict requirements are used to safeguard the amenity of the gorge and will ensure that house designs respect and respond appropriately to their local context.
Ultimately building a community complimented and informed by the surrounding environment.