Type — Urban Renewal

Location — Docklands, Melbourne

Status — Stage 1 Complete


After an open competition, the Victorian Government’s urban renewal authority Places Victoria granted Folk Architects the opportunity to undertake a temporary community activation on Docklands Harbour Esplanade.

Hortus (Latin for garden), temporarily occupies the site, providing a communal backyard environment for residents, workers and visitors to enjoy. The relocatable pavilion consists of a freestanding glasshouse that incorporates an edible and medicinal plant installation from artist Lauren Berkowitz, a café from Seven Seeds, and a space that can be adapted to house community events.

Hortus has been a successful project exemplifying the principles of Folk and the power of urban activation as a community building exercise. Folk has been invited by the Retail Design Institute of Australia and the Institute of Architects to present Hortus, and major developers have shown interest in the project model for socially engaging and active urban spaces within their developments to attract a broader audience and build happy and healthy communities.

The pavilion operates as a testing ground for new concepts and encourages valuable exchange between diverse community members, providing information and feedback that can help to inform the future built outcomes for the site. Hortus has helped this underutilised waterfront evolve into an active space, successfully bridging the residential, commercial and public spaces in the area.

This small-scale activation has become an exemplar pilot project and catalyst that continues to inspire activities within the area that extend beyond the physical dimension of architecture.

Photo: Peter Bennetts, Lauren Bamford