ACT News


Pop-up village to bring life to Lake Burley Griffin

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The shores of Lake Burley Griffin's west basin and Canberra's derided futsal slab will become home to a temporary shipping container village and events space in time for the spring Floriade festival.

A rooftop-bar, retail spaces, cafes and entertainment are all part of an $800,000 plan by the ACT government to bring crowds to the area over two years.

Plans for the Westside at Acton Park "pop-up village" were unveiled on Wednesday, with construction of the project's first stage expected to be completed by September, ahead of a second stage later in 2014.

The area will include a four-container high village and gathering space constructed with tubular steel on the futsal slab area near Commonwealth Avenue, championed by former Chief Minister Kate Carnell in the 1990s.

Planned to revitalise the area for public use, the village is a precursor to the broader City to the Lake redevelopment project and will include a viewing area overlooking the lake, and a central space for markets, open-air cinema and sporting events.

The project will be built and managed by the Stomping Ground Collective, which includes some of the minds behind popular Braddon cafe Lonsdale Street Roasters.


A year-round calendar of events is planned for the park, which will also feature a large digital screen for live broadcasts, free public Wi-Fi and low-cost rent retail spaces for artists, designers and other local traders.

ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr said it would become home to a range of restaurants, cafes, bars, retail spaces, concerts and other events.

"We are very keen to bring the widest range of people into the precinct," he said. 

"We are keen to see local businesses, local food and wine, local entrepreneurship celebrated and this will provide a low cost entry point into an emerging market for a number of these players.

"We will see some existing and well-known Canberra brands that are going to take the next step in their development on this site."

Mr Barr said the park would be at the "cutting edge of innovation" and would link with tourism promotion and branding for the city.

Stomping Ground Collective spokesman and creative force Terry Shaw said shipping container design had been utilised in similar projects in New York, London and in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake recovery.

"The beauty of Westside is that all of its uses are yet to be discovered," he said.

"It will be dynanmic, and won't be a place that is pigeon-holed into certain uses and we are looking for the creative and new ideas... which we expect will include retail incubation, sporting or community events, exploration of technology and social media and arts and culture." 

Stomping Ground has invited expressions of interest from traders, artists and others businesses interested in having a presence at the park. 

Mr Barr said the government would work with the National Capital Authority on the project, coordinated in part by the ACT Land Development Agency.

Opposition economic development and tourism spokesman Brendan Smyth said the project warranted close scrutiny. 

“This is an interesting initiative, but highlights the problem the government has in developing the city centre. We will be watching this closely and examining the cost.”

For more information, contact Stomping Grounds Collective.