April 2, 2020

The Lost Normal of Melbourne

Smith Street through Collingwood Fitzroy – 19th-century suburbs of Melbourne.  March 17, 2020.


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  1. Australian streets have a lot of covered sidewalks. Many large canopies and encroaching upper floors. Are the sidewalks on private property or city property? I wish we had more of this in Vancouver. Our urban design expectations of continuous weather protection along frontages is not consistently applied nor embraced well in architectural design. Note in this photo that restaurant seating is outbound on the sidewalk, like many European (and Miami) streets. Very civilized.

  2. Melbourne gets a lot of sudden rain, short sharp to torrential at times – so verandas are essential. The canopies (verandas, awnings) are mostly over public sidewalks (for us footpaths) which are the responsibility of City Councils as City Property under legislation. Businesses using sidewalks as in the photo pay an annual permit fee per table, chair and are required under City Council bylaws to have a barrier to the roadway and to keep a minimum 1.5 meter (metre) walkway clear along the building line or more for larger footpaths. This is to enable clear access to business premises, shop windows, and the blind who navigate along the shopfront. The photo of Smith Street is an inner city heritage area in the City of Yarra, so fees and distances can vary according to the City Council by laws.

    Tables, chairs and umbrellas or awnings are also placed by businesses in public laneways in inner Melbourne which are totally or partially closed for street amenity. But they invariably are required to bring these in at the end of trading, usually by 11pm.

    There also similar structures over private property as part of new property developments , replicating successful laneways