Melville Cultural Infrastructure Strategy

Case Study


Whadjuk Noongar

What was the issue?

Located equidistant between Perth and Fremantle and bordered on one side by the Swan River, the City of Melville is an established and desirable place to live and work. The Council and progressive arts team were keen to ensure that the City’s cultural infrastructure – that is the libraries, museums, galleries, performances spaces (indoor and outdoor), artist studios and rehearsal spaces – could meet the needs of residents for many years to come.

What did we do?

TF.A were invited to deliver a Cultural Infrastructure Strategy to guide the development of the City’s cultural assets over the next 20 years. To do this, we took a deep dive into the communities that make up the City, looking beyond the river-lined suburbs and towards people who had not previously been consulted. We spoke with young people, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities and First Nations people to understand their ambitions for their neighbourhoods.

Chinese community workshop at Bull Creek Library

We need more space that is multi-functional, that can host gatherings and be used for multicultural events. The space needs to be inclusive and accessible with more focus on diversity, Chinese language, and others.

Guided by these conversations, global precedents and documents such as Creative Melville 2018 – 2022 and the WA Cultural Infrastructure Framework 2030+, we devised the following three Strategies:

  1. City + Neighbourhood Exchange: Melville needs both a central locus and a series of neighbourhood hubs that respond to the needs of the surrounding community. The centre and hubs remain in constant dialogue and creative exchange.
  2. A Cultural Continuum: cultural infrastructure will support a continuum of cultural production, experiences and learning across communities, localities, and demographics.
  3. A City of Many Cultures: cultural infrastructure will celebrate and support diverse communities within the City of Melville, and enable exchange, interaction, and harmonious relationships between all cultures.

Next, we devised a series of interconnected, place-based and catalytic ‘moves’ that would enable the Strategy to be implemented:

  • The development of a new city precinct that extends from the existing civic heart at Booragoon to Yagan Mia Wireless Hill and the Hickey Street Cottages. This precinct will provide the City with the strong cultural core that it needs to thrive.
  • The transformation of standalone libraries into thriving neighbourhood hubs combining traditional library services with the flexibility offered by a community centre.
  • Increase the use of outdoor spaces for cultural activity; extend cultural programming from the river foreshore to the less active parks south of Leach Highway (using temporary infrastructure where necessary).
  • As per global trends, develop a series of low-cost structures for experimental cultural activity.

Finally, we devised a series of asset specific actions, including provisional programming of works, quick wins, and independent budget estimates.

What was the impact?

The Melville Cultural Infrastructure Strategy was endorsed by Council in November 2022, marking the end of a complex yet rewarding project.

One of the useful elements of the MCIS is that it establishes a set of priorities for the City to focus on in coming years. It provides an insight into future trends and outlines how improvements to cultural infrastructure can benefit the various communities living within the city.

The MCIS unites community consultation, research, analysis, and benchmarking to create a unified voice and direction. It also aims to maximise investment through a more strategic approach to assets and development.

Australians’ engagement with arts and creativity creates stronger individual and collective futures and builds a more civil society for generations to come. Creating our Future, National Arts Participation Survey 2020