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Hortus in Docklands


All images: Peter Bennetts

Hortus is a new exciting destination at Docklands Harbour Esplanade Melbourne. The project is a freestanding glasshouse pavilion that incorporates an edible plant installation by artist Lauren Berkowitz, a café by Seven Seeds and a space that can be adapted for community events.

Places Victoria awarded the Temporary Activation of the Docklands Harbour Esplanade to ‘Utopian Folk’, a collaboration between Folk Architects’ Christie Petsinis and Tim Wilson, and Melissa Loughnan of Utopian Slumps.

Hortus means ‘garden’ in Latin and the glasshouse structure is located on the waterfront at Docklands adjacent to John Kelly’s Cow up a Tree sculpture. Although it is a temporary structure, it will stay at the Docklands site for some time to service the local community as a café and meeting place. It has been designed to be easily relocated and can be transported to another site should this be required.

Utopian Folk realised this project on a limited budget and with the help of many collaborators. Local materials were foraged from a variety of sources and recycled timber was used to create outdoor seating. Concrete pipes have been transformed into planters and filled with indigenous plants from the St Kilda Indigenous Plant Nursery, while bike rails were sourced from an existing Places Victoria storage shed.

The pavilion itself has been made from a new high performance glass, donated by Viridian Glass. A removable canopy promotes cross-ventilation and helps diffuse light to maintain a stable internal environment. Passive cooling ventilation provides an effective alternative to air-conditioning, with an operable vent to expel hot air through the heat stack effect, while water tanks harvest water for the internal and outside gardens.

Internally, the Seven Seeds café has also embraced sustainability principles, fertilising indoor plants with used coffee bean compost, maximising equipment efficiency and using a juggler bladder for milk storage instead of bottles.

Among those who assisted Utopian Folk in creating Hortus by donating products and time include: Viridian Glass, Glass House Company, FDC, Aecom, Philip Chun, Montlaur Project Services, Euroluce, International Paints, Stowe, Aston, City of Melbourne and Places Victoria.

An underutilised pier in the Docklands has now been brought to life thanks to Places Victoria and Utopian Folk. Let’s hope this is just the beginning…



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