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The Underline Activation project was commissioned in response the largest rail infrastructure project in the state of Victoria’s history. 

The removal of level crossings along the rail corridor opens up space for a public realm corridor, previously unavailable and provides opportunities for community use and  a shared path  network under the rail line. Neighbourhood activity nodes along the corridor provide sport courts and recreation equipment offering unique, vibrant and highly identifiable spaces. The spaces, design by ASPECT Studios aim to utilise colour and pattern to create a place identity to express the local social and cultural values of the area, nurturing community connectedness and pride of place. March Studio has been working closely with ASPECT Studios to develop the graphic languages for each activity nodes and associated way finding.

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The major challenge of the overall project was to create functional, inclusive and attractive public spaces within the heart of a mega piece of new infrastructure that is  reshaping the landscape of its local community. The spaces underneath elevated roads and rail have traditionally been neglected or forgotten as places, so the challenge was to create activities and a connective corridor that would bring the ‘underline’ to life and provide a new level of public facility and engagement. The project has proven to be a successful demonstration of how the rail corridors can be transformed, create a lasting legacy for Melbourne through great urban design and place making for individuals and communities.

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Creating a more connected and activated corridor has many benefits to the health, well being and economic viability for local communities impacted by this project. The old rail corridor was effectively a barrier for movement of people and vehicles restricting and isolating movement and behaviour of local residents. The removal of this barrier and the transformation of the access and movement opportunities (increased walking and cycling) has meant a more vibrant and activated community with opportunities to rethink the retail and food and beverage offerings along the route and around the new plazas and spaces interfacing the railway stations.

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