IN less than a decade, a forgotten corner of Canberra’s CBD has been transformed into one of Australia’s most memorable new neighbourhoods.
Wander through the laneways of NewActon and it’s hard to believe that work began on the precinct in 2006, when the cobwebs were dusted from the Hotel Acton.
Developer the Molonglo Group was determined “not to be ordinary” when it laid out its vision for NewActon. The precinct embraces “the philosophy of public occupation”, attracting everyone from five-star travellers to office workers, residents to restaurant goers, cyclists to cinema buffs.
According to lead judge Bill Chandler, New Acton is a “precinct of surprise and delight that is a rich place of outstanding quality and design”. NewActon, which was created through private sector vision, investment and effort, is a lighthouse example of Canberra’s potential.
NewActon is now a memorable neighbourhood – but we need more of them, and they don’t all need to be in our CBD. Vacant sites, rundown local shops and abandoned school buildings can be found all over Canberra. These areas could be carefully adapted to provide vibrant new spaces and services.