From the architect:.

Late last year Chris Elliott Architects won the commission to design a number of structures along the riverfront to help with its revitalization. This year we've been working closely with Horsham Rural City Council to realize their aim of enhancing the riverfront. We have designed eight structures in all based on a master plan prepared by Tract Landscape and Urban Design consultants. 

The approach is from the central part of the city along the town's main street heading south towards the river. The entry is celebrated and enhanced by a monumental timber pergola that leads to the main gathering place. This area is designed and conceived as an arrival and meeting place for riverside leisure activities. The first structure is the entry pergola, a heavy recycled timber structure that will eventually be overgrown with vines.

The structure frames a view towards the first river connection element, or "node". This consists of a large timber deck that projects out into the river, with a stainless-steel wire balustrade. We wished to use the pergola to frame the view of the river. We also considered that looking back through the pergola towards the town provides an opportunity to strengthen the visual connection by framing the distant church spire, thus connecting the riverside meeting area and river connection back to the town.

The project consists primarily of three river connections (or nodes). These elements help to bring the people close to nature and put them in touch with Horsham's most important and beautiful asset - its river. These riverfront nodes will let the visitors experience the river in a different and new way.

To the east of the arrival point is the toilet block, a concrete structure lined with timber elements to discourage graffiti. The toilets are designed to be as light and bright and open as possible while providing some protection from the elements.

The block has no internal area or hallways in order to allow the best possible surveillance from a distance. To the east of the toilets is the Angling Club, a nondescript sixties building which we are extending with a new outdoor eating area covered by a new timber pergola. Beyond the angling club are two picnic shelters and further to the east is another connection point or node and a grassy bank for relaxing by the river.

The building elements are all part of a family that uses a tough aesthetic of off-form concrete combined with weathered Australian hardwoods. The project is constructed entirely of durable low-maintenance materials - concrete and recycled hardwood timber, with stainless steel fittings.


What was the brief?

1. Entry Pergola
The entry pergola was intended to be a kind of arrival point signifying entry to the riverfront area so that its purpose is partly for shade but also partly symbolic. The clients expressed a wish that the pergola would eventually be covered with vines. This entry pergola and the main deck were intended as the main meeting and gathering point. From here people could take a leisurely stroll to the east or west along the river encountering the various structures as they go.

2. Decks
The three decks (riverside connection nodes) were to be constructed of durable materials and to be robust and capable of withstanding periodic flooding of the river. If you look at the old iron-bark jetties around the country both in the ocean and in rivers it is difficult to think of a material that is more robust, durable, and beautiful than native Australian hardwoods, so this is the material we chose for the pergolas and decks.

3. Amenities Upgrade
We were told that this was to be a new building that meets the current accessibility standards. We were asked to provide two accessible toilets and six standard toilets that could be used by either sex. An important requirement was for good surveillance from the park, with no hidden areas or hallways.

4. Additions to the Angling Club
We were told that the club building is not undergoing any changes. Rather, a free-standing pergola and shade structure was to be added to the front entrance to provide a shady outdoor seating area.