Al Fresco, Anyone?

Western Australia is bravely re-envisioning the value of design for community use. With Simon Venturi’s NOMA* leading the crusade, Perth’s public spaces are among the most exciting and innovative around.

Designers who have the chance to meet their clients, who have the chance to get amongst their idiosyncratic habits – or, simply, just their tastes – are a blessed few. For many, this one-on-one client interaction simplifies the design feedback loop. For many more, this interface is a remote luxury.

Imagine designing for a client you haven’t met. Imagine, that is, designing for ‘anyone’. With the concern and consideration for communally friendly design spreading across Australia, we imagine the problem is to successfully pull off the trick of designing for ‘anyone’ without designs becoming anonymous.

So, here, Western Australia is truly leading the charge in discovering ground-breaking design possibilities with an appeal all-encompassing, a value all-inclusive, and an application all-embracing. The recent design projects from Perth’s NOMA* Architects – guided by Simon Venturi – represent an acute mindedness for design that is practical and for general community amenity.

Smack-bang in the centre of the Sorrento Quay Boardwalk, NOMA’s latest Performance Deck establishes a 750sqm public amphitheatre and deck space that is both at the heart of Sorrento Quay and the heart of the public. Exploring spatial flexibility in a public environment, the deck is designed to accommodate both ‘anyone’ and ‘anything’: markets, car shows, boat shows, outdoor movies, ice skating, concerts, local school and community gatherings, and all manner of performances. Beyond chameleonic and multi-purpose, this project puts a spotlight on the complex both in a geographical and functional sense. Intelligently situated at low boardwalk level, the communal deck forges a strong connection to the surrounding businesses while establishing a natural amphitheatre capturing the harbour’s natural beauty.

The Sorrento Quay Performance Deck incorporates timber decking on steel sub-structure piling. A series of steel framed tensile shade canopies positioned over the stage and terraced seating have been designed to minimise their visual presence on the existing centre when viewed from an adjacent beach. This project extends on the Breakwater Tavern, Boardwalk and Bascule Bridge project, thus enabling a continuous walkable circuit around the harbour. With this new actively public-oriented space at its centre, the Sorrento Quay Performance Deck has already proven itself to be a smash-hit with Perthlings, becoming an instant local landmark.

Also by the brains behind NOMA*, is the darling and attractive Parklet – a micro-sized public park – on Angrove Street, North Perth. Constructed from the salvaged timber off-cuts of the Sorrento Performance Deck, the Parklet is an infallible example of NOMA’s commitment to recycling, sustainable design practice, and an uncompromised respect for Perth’s natural ecology. Otherwise being wasted on landfill, the Parklet’s recycled timer proves that sustainable design harnesses the enormous potential in materials for exponential reusable value. Arranged in the stacked form it was originally used by the Sorrento Quay Performance Deck construction teams, the timber is accompanied by folded aluminium planters – home to those much-loved Perth natives. The design creates an intimate and inclusive space, encouraging its ‘anyone’ to experience a moment of comfort in his or her busy lives.

Both the Angrove Street Parklet and the Sorrento Quay Performance Deck are excellent models of NOMA’s philosophy of designing unique, engaging outcomes that contribute to the public realm, where ‘anyone’ is always welcome.


Words by David Congram.