Developing the Masterplan


Recognising that the St Kilda Triangle is important to the Port Phillip community and a significant public space renewal opportunity for Melbourne and Victoria, Council committed to a process of collaboratively designing an outcome with community, industry and government.

At a Council Meeting on 24 August 2014, a resolution was passed that:

Council will co-design with our community and stakeholders a funded project for the
St Kilda Triangle which creates a locally-loved place that the world admires.

What is co-design? Co-design is a process whereby all affected stakeholders investigate and work through design problems together and develop mutually beneficial solutions.

The Masterplan was developed through co-design, including a series of three iterative workshops aimed at aligning the aspirations of Council, community, industry and government.



Stage 1 of the project commenced in late 2014 through a series of community working groups (guided by a Steering Committee) to refine the parameters of St Kilda Triangle 2012. This stage produced a Design Brief defining several requirements for the site. These included:

  • That the majority of built form be located around the Palais Theatre
  • The Esplanade should be maintained as a balcony to view the horizon and the bay
  • Car parking should be located on the site but out of sight
  • Remoulding the landscape and reimagining The Slopes should be explored.

Stage 1 also involved the production of the draft St Kilda Triangle Cultural Charter, a guiding document - similar to the charter for Federation Square - to ensure maximum public benefit in the design, development and future management and activation of the site. The draft Cultural Charter was further refined as part of Stage 2.

Completed in December 2014, Stage 1 confirmed the Port Phillip community was eager for an activated, green public space that functioned as a daytime anchor for the Palais Theatre and Luna Park, and attracted more people to St Kilda.

Co-designing the Masterplan Options

In mid-2015, Council initiated Stage 2 of the project to develop a Masterplan and Business Case for the Triangle site to encourage Victorian Government investment.

The Design Brief from Stage 1 was revised to clarify several working assumptions, and was endorsed by Council on 28 July 2015. The design team then produced a series of Masterplan Options that were tested through stakeholder workshops in August 2015 and with the Office of the Victorian Government Architect’s (OVGA) Design Review Panel.

The first workshop, Co-Design Workshop 1, was held over two sessions on 6 August 2015 and 9 August 2015. Twelve evaluation criteria (Appendix 2 of the Masterplan) were developed from the Design Brief (Revision 1), and were used to guide the community’s assessment of the Masterplan Options. Participants were encouraged to test the degree to which each option responded to the criteria.

The options were:

  • Option 1 - A Local Park/Public Space
  • Option 2 - A Civic and Events Space for Community Showcase
  • Option 3 - A Seaside Playground
  • Option 4 - A Single Cultural Institution.

Following Co-Design Workshop 1, there was general agreement about the need for a high quality public space. There was also a general desire for a combination of cultural, educational, community and commercial uses to support a viable and active site. Further exploration of a pedestrian bridge over Jacka Boulevard was seen as important to provide a direct link to the foreshore. Concerns were also raised about the need for weather protection from sun, rain and wind on the site.

Overall, there was a clear preference towards options 3 and 4, and a strong desire for a mix of cultural institution / facilities and open public space. Participants noted that a new local park, while providing a range of benefits such as maintaining views from The Esplanade, would be a missed opportunity.

The design team used this feedback to prepare three refined Masterplan Options:

  • Option 4 - Large Single Cultural Institution (30,000m2 of cultural use)
  • Option 5 - Medium Cultural Facility (22,000m2 of mixed cultural and complementary use)
  • Option 6 - A Seaside Playground (12,000m2 of mixed cultural and complementary use).

At Co-Design Workshop 2, held on 20 August 2015, participants closely examined options 5 and 6, exploring alternatives for the location and size of the buildings, The Slopes, car parking and visual character.

Option 4 was presented to test the community’s acceptance of a major State-funded cultural institution. Workshop participants generally agreed with the concept, and this option continues to be explored by Council through a separate investigative process.

Co-Design Workshop 2 resulted in agreement on several other elements, including:

  • built form should be concentrated around the Palais Theatre and respect its prominence
  • the site should be a destination for locals and visitors
  • the panoramic balcony should be retained regardless of the preferred outcome
  • land uses need to be clearly defined
  • good connections are important across the site and to the wider precinct.

Option 5 - Medium Cultural Facility was supported by the majority of workshop participants who believed it was more likely to create an activated landscape and new ‘views’ over the surrounding landscape than the other options.

Participants were interested in the concept of an extended balcony with a gallery space and car parking underneath. There was general - but not unanimous - agreement that if panoramic views to the bay were maintained, parts of The Slopes could be modified. Opinions differed on the acceptable amount of overshadowing of built form behind the Palais Theatre, and on the financial implications of a pedestrian bridge over Jacka Boulevard.

Interim Masterplan

Council’s design team synthesised the outcomes of the first two workshops into an Interim Masterplan. The Interim Masterplan showed where buildings could be located on the site, how big they might be and established an overarching framework for the public space between buildings, site connections and land uses.

The Interim Masterplan clearly articulated:

  • the desire for a cultural facility to underpin the site in a way that didn’t disrupt balcony views from The Esplanade
  • that buildings should be concentrated around or behind the Palais to support its function and activate its public spaces
  • the desire for a hotel at the rear of the theatre, with other cultural spaces.

The Interim Masterplan also included a new forecourt to the Palais Theatre, a colonnade along Jacka Boulevard and a reimagining of The Slopes to create an amphitheatre.

The Interim Masterplan was endorsed by Council on 22 September 2015.

Co-designing the public space

Following endorsement of the Interim Masterplan and advice from the OVGA Design Review Panel, a third co-design workshop was held to work through the look, feel and texture of the Triangle site’s public space. In parallel, Council engaged industry through market soundings, held a workshop with major events producers and met with St Kilda traders.

Co-Design Workshop 3, held on 11 October 2015, explored programming opportunities on the site, the design of the Triangle site’s public space, and its overall look and feel. It was understood by participants that an exploration of the public realm would likely lead to changes to the Interim Masterplan.

The workshop found there was a desire for the Triangle site to be a contemporary interpretation of Carlo Catani’s Mediterranean-inspired landscape. Another key theme discussed at the workshop was the importance of accessibility and creating key pedestrian connections across different levels of the site to easily link St Kilda to the beach and vice versa.

Participants raised concerns about the potential impact of the colonnade, particularly in relation to noise and traffic along Jacka Boulevard, accessibility, and the long-term viability of retail along such a busy thoroughfare. These concerns were supported by the OVGA Design Review Panel and industry feedback.

The idea of an amphitheatre was supported, although participants felt Jacka Plaza might be too noisy due to its proximity to the street. It was suggested that the Palais Forecourt was a more appropriate and protected place and this should be further developed.

Another element explored by workshop participants involved examining the Triangle site using a Character Area Plan drawn from St Kilda Triangle 2012. These character areas were applied to the Interim Masterplan at Co-Design Workshop 3 and have informed the development of the Triangle site’s public space.

Draft Masterplan

A draft Masterplan was developed in response to feedback from Co-Design Workshop 3 and released for community comment on 24 November 2015.

The draft Masterplan further refined the connections, broad land uses, size and location of buildings on the site, and the character of the public realm.

Key changes from the Interim Masterplan included:

  • removing the colonnade in response to concerns about amenity and function. It was replaced with landscaped Garden Slopes providing a new green edge to Jacka Boulevard. This allows for an access ramp to Jacka Boulevard in response to strong feedback about the importance of accessibility across the site
  • removal of The Grotto to allow for a large open space called The Lawn
  • a new Promenade extending out from The Esplanade, creating new views of the foreshore
  • complementary uses alongside the Palais Theatre forming the The Terrace
  • removal of the Jacka Plaza amphitheatre in response to feedback, and improvements to the Palais Forecourt.

Consultation on the draft Masterplan began on Thursday 26 November 2015, and ended on Friday 29 January 2016. Council received over 250 responses to an online survey and several written submissions. This feedback has informed the final St Kilda Triangle Masterplan.

Through the robust and innovative co-design process for the Masterplan, all participants have actively considered and balanced critical issues relating to the Triangle site.

This has resulted in broad acceptance that the St Kilda Triangle will not just be a site for locals, but a popular destination for visitors as well.

The St Kilda Triangle will be a place that celebrates St Kilda and Port Phillip, and will offer something unique and distinctive for everyone who visits.