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Melbourne’s own ‘Times Square’ suggested for Camberwell

By Matt Hurlston

Incredible shopping, great food, and a melting pot of cultures in one place – it’s sometimes hard to tell Melbourne and New York apart.Now, in a proposal by urban design company Alexander Urbanism, these two great cities may have even more in common, with a ‘Times Square’ style pedestrian intersection proposed for Camberwell Junction.

And as anybody who’s been to Times Square will tell you, this could be great news for Camberwell residents!

‘The heart of Australia’?

New York’s Times Square is affectionately known by some as the ‘Heart of the World’ where it meets at the junction of Seventh Avenue and Broadway. As much as a third of a million people pass through this intersection every day, and it’s one of the world’s most popular locations to count down to New Year’s Eve. We like to think of Camberwell Junction as our very own version of it!

Should the proposal from Alexander Urbanism and transport planners Martyn Group go ahead, Camberwell Road on either side of the Junction will be transformed into a completely pedestrian area. The theory is that this would create a new ‘heart’ of the town, and encourage people to travel on foot and by tram through the area.

This plan also sets out to reduce congestion, as it would create a simpler intersection for motorists on the other four arms of the junction across Riverside and Burke Roads.

Essentially, the pedestrian street would measure roughly 50 metres and include alfresco dining spaces, trees, a plaza, water features and a cycle path. The plaza itself would be designed to host events throughout the year such as meetings, art shows and fashion parades. On the other side of the junction to the south, Alexander Urbanism proposes more cycle paths, trees, and a tram superstop.

It’d make Camberwell as a whole more attractive as a shopping destination.

Nathan Alexander, the director of the urban design company behind the plans, lives just a few kilometres from this busy junction, said that the plan would create a space for friends to meet and enjoy a meal together.

“The changes would provide safety and access improvements for people on foot, on bicycle, in trams and in private motor vehicles,” he added.

Alexander Urbanism’s proposal has already been backed by councillor for Junction Ward Jack Wegman, who told Architecture AU that he had encouraged the plaza concept.

“The idea shows great potential to give Camberwell the town square it deserves. It’d make Camberwell as a whole more attractive as a shopping destination,” he said.

Councillor Wegman will now have to progress the proposal in order for it to be considered by the City of Boroondara. Subject to approval and funding, the plans would then require further design planning and work and cost estimates for it to become a reality. Such a plaza could be a boon for owners of real estate in Camberwell and nearby suburbs with new opportunities for shopping and socialising without travelling far from home.

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