Market Lane Opens at The District Docklands

The November 2019 opening of Market Lane in the District Docklands complex signals a new sensibility in the way in which urban infrastructure is considered. Following Ashe Morgan’s proprietorship of the site in 2014, NH Architecture has been focused on a holistic revitalisation of the precinct, with Market Lane being the latest invigorating redevelopment to be completed.

The new $70 million development now stands as the largest fresh food precinct within 5km of Melbourne’s CBD. Market Lane boasts a plethora of retailers within the 9,500m2 District Docklands complex, including Woolworths, Dan Murphy’s and The Humble Baker in addition to Empire Asian Supermarket which will be opening at the end of this year. Alongside this, the site now hosts 2,250 car park spaces. District Docklands’ CEO George Karabatsos suggests that ‘Market Lane represents the cultural diversity of the city we live in, and is convenient, friendly and fresh – it’s a new one-stop shop for foodies right in the heart of Docklands, Melbourne.’

The project rejects the ‘build, demolish, build’ mantra of past times and has adopted a considered, adaptive design, derived from the contemporary needs of the city, as a response to an investment climate which requires new builds with longevity. This is evident in NH Architecture’s repurposing of the underutilised, single purpose structure, into a multi-use asset to the precinct. Therefore, Market Lane directly addresses the need for meaningful development for evolving neighbourhoods, it recognises how we need think about our city in 3 dimensional terms, as Melbourne expands and reshapes itself to coincide with the new decade.

The market stalls use a typology well researched by NH – a free-standing, steel framed cube structure, that hosts the individual retailing activity. This supports a liberal environment in which operators can manifest all their retailing acumen. This has also been played out on the faces to the street. NH have taken a positive design risk by encouraging a vast amount of individual expression on the facades, offering autonomy to the operators, in terms of individual customisation. This seeks to facilitate pride among tenants, whilst crafting a personal relationship between merchant and user. Roger Nelson, Managing Director of NH Architecture states that ‘In terms of look and feel, the Market Hall uses the stripped back aesthetic of a bare concrete structure, with inserts of dressed up pieces of Australian timbers around the amenities and indeed, battening out of the carbon fibre clad column that now rise 5.5m’.

Situating itself as a complimentary extension of the recently completed cinema and eatery insertion, Market Lane articulates itself as a vital segment of the grand plan for the precinct. The success of this multi-faceted urban regeneration project continues to rejuvenate The District, as well as facilitating the potential for future redevelopment in the languishing land between the site and Footscray Road. After the recent completion of The Glen Shopping Centre alongside Burwood Brickworks official opening, NH’s suite of projects within the retail arena stand as precedents, for the redefinition of commercial infrastructure, in conjunction with the ever-evolving needs of the contemporary Australian city.