Geraldton is an important regional city and regional seaport synonymous with WA’s shipwreck coast and the mid-west region.
The town centre retains a strong sense of its still operational port infrastructure, with large wheat bins located on the southern edge of the foreshore and the port itself dominating the ocean view from the foreshore.
The city has recently seen significant public realm investment on its waterfront. A more recent masterplan identified various linkages by which the city might be better connect to its refashioned foreshore, including the integration of a recently acquired retail shop and site adjacent to the foreshore on Marine Terrace.
The Rocks project is a city-to-foreshore pathway incorporating existing laneways, streets and the original “Rocks” store. The path traces a pedestrian link joining the noted regional gallery “GRAG”, located two city blocks from the waterfront, to the city foreshore.
The tracing of the pathway uncovered some extraordinary gems and almost lost histories. We found that a strange, ‘half-baked’ urban square on Marine Terrace, located right opposite the site of the Rocks building, was also the site of a handsome but long demolished post office building.
The initial brief was to refashion the Rocks building – a relatively standard Victorian shop – to accommodate community activities and create a new pedestrian link between Marine Terrace and the waterfront Esplanade.
Our team interrogated the Rocks in the context of the city. We identified the nearby GRAG building (and former town hall) as an end (or beginning) point for the journey.
With the City, we mapped a path that complements some of the primary cross roads that extend from the city centre to the reactivated foreshore, and then investigated strategies by which it might be prescribed and activated. After preliminary conceptual work and budgeting, the City approved an expanded brief that incorporated a meta-graphic art installation across the entire length of “the walk” and a steel framed pavilion (or “Ghost Office”) on the site of the old town post office building.
The brief for the old Rocks shop included a clear pedestrian linkage to the Esplanade; capacity to host events, including small scale music and theatre and exhibitions; and the provision of bathrooms and a small kitchenette. Its adaptive re-use incorporated a steel frame riff on the nearby wheat bins, recycled floorboards to the new bathroom pod, recycled pressed tin linings, new roof openings and skylights to facilitate green landscape insertions and integrated bench seating for pop-up entertainment events.
The Ghost Office structure incorporates a trellis and trained vegetation to provide a shady refuge on Marine Terrace. It forms a three-quarter scale outline of the Victorian post office building and reinstates the streetscape along Geraldton’s primary retail “High Street.”
The City engaged artist Trevor Richards to develop the meta-graphic concept for the project. After a series of workshops and concept studies, Trevor adopted the Geraldton Wax as the leitmotif for the artwork, which provides a recurring and striking overlay across various surfaces throughout the length and breadth of the Rocks City Walk.