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Art Studies and Architectural Journal (ASAJ), Volume 2, Jun 2017

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The freeway is a global model for vehicular movement. It is designed to enable efficiency and alleviate congestion. The freeway is a dominant urban form within almost every major city throughout the world. This paper identifies design strategies and implementation processes that can increase pedestrian accessibility and improve urban amenity within the context of existing freeway structures. The application of this infrastructure within established urban environments necessitates the removal of large areas of existing urban fabric to accommodate an elevated structure. This process typically results in spaces under freeways, or undercrofts, which are ?negative spaces in the fullest sense of the term. They are often empty, liminal spaces; void of a clearly a defined programme, lacking any meaningful connection the formal language or social conditions of the previously contiguous urban fabric. This paper addresses the emerging need for freeway undercroft spaces to connect with, and contribute to, their adjacent environments and examines the critical role of the pedestrian experience in delivering such transformations. This paper will examine a current undercroft conversion project in the Southbank neighbourhood of central Melbourne, Australia. Formerly an industrial area, the neighbourhood has been the subject of dramatic transformation into a high residential environment, bisected by an elevated freeway infrastructure. This paper will also compare and discuss other recent global examples of undercroft transformations. Common to the projects explored is an aspiration to reclaim undercroft spaces for public benefit in the process of ?restitching severed or ?disconnected urban fabric through pedestrian oriented activity.

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