The architecture and urban design scheme reestablishes a long lost relationship between the community of Maitland and the river at its heart. The project hopes to establish a new identity for the town, and attract a broader flow of tourism and business.
A recent history of flooding in the town meant that public perceptions of the river were at an all time low.
The Riverlink archway creates an urban connection between the bustling High Street and the Hunter River. The two town assets finally act in harmony, and create an impressive river promenade. The archway forms part of phase two of the masterplan for Maitland, kicking off the commercial development and creating an iconic centrepiece for the plan.
The archway has been deemed ‘a public living room’, housing a cafe, restaurant and public amenities. The whole layout can be transformed to host a public cinema or outdoor theatre.
From the opposite side of the river, the timber and brick form lights up like a beacon, providing a welcoming entryway to the city. The new city zone, named ‘The Levee’ will eventually be a 270 metre long public district.
The project was designed collaboratively by Sydney firm CHROFI, and Melbourne firm McGregor Coxall, who are masterplanning the area.
Monolithic brick walls hold up a timber roof canopy, creating not only a sculptural thoroughfare to access the river, but a covered public shelter.
The handmade bricks and timber complement the significant sandstone architecture of the town. Unique corner bricks have a smooth, rounded profile, which allows sharp corner angles to be achieved.
The timber for the canopy was chosen to relate to the context, and provide a warmth and human scale. Being a naturally sensitive area of the town, timber provided a lightness and natural feel that sat well in the site. Solid Blackbutt timber clads the interiors and roof, while a custom interlocking system clads the exterior.
Timber battens allow light to filter through the structure, and provide a textural quality, while breaking up the monolithic form. Triangular battens, modelled off warehouse construction, allow for a clearer view out, and a more private view in.
Given the timber and clay bricks are both naturally weathering materials, as the timber greys and the bricks season to their location, the materials will take on a more uniform and complementary relationship.