Geelong CBD Masterplan

Common, in collaboration with LAB architecture Studio, were engaged as key members of the Geelong Vision 2 project, tasked with identifying areas, strategies and opportunities that will provide a vision, momentum & investment for the next 20 years of growth of central Geelong

Developing on the foundation laid by the Geelong Vision 1 series of projects that redeveloped the waterfront (among other things) and transformed the area from an industrial and maritime precinct into a vibrant recreational and touristic waterfront; The Geelong Vision 2 project is exploring how best to plan for the future of central Geelong. Architects, urban Designers and planners have joined with local businesses and the local community to develop a shared vision for the city.

Geelong is in a time of transition. With the G21 Regional Growth Plan under development, and various federal laws coming into play in the near future there is scope, and need, for Geelong to become bigger and better than ever. There are challenges for central Geelong to maintain its viability and relevance as Geelong transitions from its industrious past.

The breadth of Geelong’s research and innovation capacity is significant. The Region is responsible for ground breaking scientific research in the area of epidemiology, gene technology and clinical trials, as well leading the way in the area of advanced materials, nanotechnology and fibre technology. A number of internationally recognised and highly respected organisations are based in Geelong including the CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory and division of Textile and Fibre Technology, Deakin University, Barwon Health, Chemgenex Pharmaceuticals, St John of God Pathology, Marine and Freshwater Systems Primary Industry Resources Victoria and the Gordon Institute of TAFE.1

Key challenges (and amazing opportunities) for Geelong will be about; capitalising on a global economy transitioning to a knowledge based economy - using education and health sectors as key catalysts creating a sustainable future - an ecologically sensitive urban environment creating a distinctive place - building on Geelong’s community spirit and amazing physical assets

Vision 2 is about creating a holistic future vision for Geelong that facilitates a thriving economy and a vibrant city centre with a variety of services and offers for its people. It is about establishing what will make it a dynamic environment to do business in, to invest in, to live in and to visit. Establishing this overarching framework that addresses the economic, social, environmental and cultural issues, is central to providing a fully sustainable Geelong of 2031.

The Vision 2 Studio Group The studio group was formed following Workshop 2 in order to visualise and communicate the primary aims of the Vision 2 project. The studio builds on the Workshops and Community Engagement events, and the wide array of material produced. The studio exercise has involved the production of visual material which imagines what form the catalyst projects could take, both to seek a level of engagement and excitement by external groups, and to explore opportunities.

The Masterplan sets out the scope of the 6 catalyst projects. They are individual yet inextricably linked to the final outcome of the Vision 2 exercise, to revitalise central Geelong.


Currently the central grid of Geelong feels larger than it really is, caused in part by a lack of street hierarchy and distinctive characters. The Spine project aims to create a pedestrian prioritised and active public realm through central Geelong. This spine uses Johnstone Park and Eastern Park as the anchors for this link, as a reminder of their civic importance in Geelong.


The arrival experience into Geelong has been described by many as “confusing”. There are no landmarks which identify central Geelong and the civic heart so close to the train station is hidden behind roadways and heavy vegetation. The City Arrival project is about redefining the arrival experience both as a driver and as a train passenger through the restoration and redevelopment of Johnstone Park, from La Trobe Terrace through to Gheringhap Street.


The concept of Geelong as a UniverCity has its roots in the Gordon Memorial Technical College which opened in 1888. The population of Geelong that completed tertiary education grew by 4% from 2006 to 2011ABS2011. Coupled with a shift from manufacturing based industries; education, together with the health industry, is set to become a key economic generator in Geelong’s future. The UniverCity project is to explore opportunities better integration of education and health facilities into central Geelong.


Central Geelong is comprised (like Melbourne) of a structured ‘Hoddle’ grid, with a network of secondary and tertiary routes. Over time, some routes have been blocked off. Additionally, a lack of diversity in rental offer across the CBD can be seen. Using Melbourne as a precedent, the Laneways project is about restoring this tertiary pedestrian movement through the city, and opening the (back)doors to low rent opportunities, such as creative industry, studios and galleries, and cheap eats.


‘People come where people are” - Gehl In a 2011 VicCLUE survey there was 84,643m2 of vacant space in Geelong’s CBD. Meanwhile, Geelong is forecast to grow by over 50,000 by 2032. A mixed use city centre is integral in improving the quality, safety and livelihood of a city. The Urban Consolidation project is about exploring opportunities for residential accommodation to exist within the city centre, both as new build and through retrofitting of existing buildings.


Geelong is not short of public space, from its expansive waterfront to the many parks. However, through the 19th Century introduction of the shopping mall, Geelong lost it’s town square. The role of the town square is seen in many cities as a place to hold impromptu public gatherings, markets and community events. It is usually near the economic heart of the city and becomes activated by the surrounding street level activity. The Market Square project explores the opportunity for recreating a town centre.