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Case Studies 

Acland Street



Contributed by 
Freda Eisenberg
Project for Public Spaces
July 7, 2003
December 14, 2017

A bustling retail street with an intimate scale.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

Acland Street has an intimate scale that brings pedestrians into close contact with its many cafes and street musicians, giving it the air of a bustling, linear party. Outdoor tables are prominent, and are often situated at the edge of the sidewalk, channeling passers by through cafes rather than around them; in that way pedestrians are integrated into the cafe scene -- and also allowed a closer look at the wares displayed in the numerous bakery windows. Festive touches include a bold, checkerboard patterned sidewalk with decorative tile insets. The tile work is echoed in benches, planters and trash bins.

Access & Linkages

Acland Street lacks curbing. Considering that cafe patrons sit at the same grade as, and in close proximity to, moving vehicles, the street design does an impressive job of fostering pedestrian comfort and safety. The sidewalk is distinguished from the adjacent road and tramway by a change in paving treatment, by bollards, and by permanently-installed street furniture that is substantial in weight and scale. The large concrete seating units separate and protect pedestrians from traffic while also serving decorative and practical functions. Perhaps it is because they appear to street users as "seating" rather than as "protective barriers," that they are most effective in promoting comfort. Unlike bollards, they do not call attention to the potential dangers to which they afford protection.

Comfort & Image

St. Kilda is known for its vibrant street life, and Acland does not disappoint. The street welcomes pedestrians with a rich and layered feast for the senses -- attractive and varied street design; talented street musicians playing in an array of musical styles; glistening displays of ornate pastries in cafe windows; and a parade for people-watching on evenings and weekends.

Uses & Activities

Strolling, dining and shopping are the street's primary activities. The scene is a comfortable one, and does not appear dominated by any particular demographic. While the area attracts its fair share of tourists, many of the shops and cafes are long-established places with a local following.


Acland Street is a place of leisure. Street users choose to go there to relax and be sociable, and the spirit of relation -- aided by good food and music -- is infectious.

How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

Related Links & Sources

Acland Street
All images © Melbourne.com.au
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*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.


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