Lyons transforms Devonport city centre

By Elijah Gall
Jun 6, '19 11:25 PM EST
Photo by Peter Bennetts
Photo by Peter Bennetts

Lyons has developed a response to the master plan (authored by Hames Sharley) and led the design of the largest urban renewal project in regional Tasmania’s history.

Lyons’ design for the $71.1millon Devonport Living City Stage 1 project includes the Paranaple Centre — a four-storey civic building and a three-storey carpark to accommodate more than 500 vehicles. Additionally, Lyons with Maddison Architects designed a new market hall known as Providore Place. Lyons also collaborated with ASPECT Studios on the project’s central Market Square. Meanwhile, a regional art gallery by Birrelli art + design + architecture rounds out the project.

Civic centre empowers community

Lyons’ brief was to deliver on the vision of the Devonport City Council to enliven and enrich the city’s social, cultural and economic heart. Key to the success of the project was the design of the new civic centre, known as the Paranaple Centre.  

A library, convention centre and Government offices all reside within this multi-purpose facility. For the first time, Devonport locals can access State and Local Government services under one roof. From the outset, Lyons Director in Charge and Design Leader Neil Appleton understood just how meaningful that integration could be for the Devonport community.

“Our design positions the library within close proximity of those Government service providers, enabling the recipients of those services to — quite literally — have a seamless pathway to  vital Library Services including literacy programs.” And it’s worked. Already, figures show library membership is up by more than 120% compared with the same period in 2017 - 2018.

Located over two levels, the library features large expanses of clear glass to foster a sense of  connection with neighbouring historic buildings and the Devonport waterfront beyond. Inside, light-filled interiors provide ‘natural wayfinding’ for visitors. Meanwhile, Lyons’ design enables side-by-side consultation between library staff and customers, as well as provisions for bring your own device (BYOD) and designated areas for children, teens and senior citizens.

The design’s flexibility is another of its merits. Council meeting rooms have been cleverly configured to enable public access to those rooms whenever they are not in use by Council Officers. Meanwhile, integrated hydronic in-slab heating ensures Devonport winters are no barrier to the comfort of staff and patrons.

On the top floor of the Paranaple Centre is a convention centre, equipped to accommodate up to 1,000 attendees for large events. Appleton and his team designed the layout to minimise columns and maximise the ceiling height to take advantage of expansive views out to the Mersey River.

“The design of the convention centre also involved extensive acoustic engineering to prevent sound from being transmitted from the event space into the Council offices below,” Appleton said.

For smaller functions, Lyons’ design enables the vast area to be sub-divided into three smaller convention rooms. For grand-scale events, a commercial-catering kitchen and a vehicle-size goods lift are both easily accessible for facilitators.

In a nod to the success of Lyons’ design, many mainland conference convenors are now heading south to take advantage of Devonport’s new venue.

Enlightened design illuminates market hall

The design of the contemporary 2500sqm market hall, known as Providore Place, was inspired by an ancient, mobile light source. Appleton explains: “The building is designed like an enormous lantern that allows natural light in through a polycarbonate roof structure.” This enables daylight to flood through the market hall and showcase fresh produce at its best.

Large glazed doors and roller shutters provide flexibility for the space to be open to the elements in fine weather or enclosed and protected against inclement conditions. The market hall’s footprint cleverly adjoins the market square, allowing stall holders to spill out into surrounding areas when weather permits.

Council praise for Lyons’ design

Matthew Atkins, Deputy General Manager Devonport City Council, is at the helm of the region’s urban renewal project. According to Atkins, the synergy between Lyons and Devonport is remarkable.

“As a Council, it’s wonderful to see our own enthusiasm mirrored in our consultants,” Atkins said. “Lyons understood the potential and power of this new precinct to unite, empower and excite Devonport’s residents and tourists alike. Thanks to the ingenuity and prowess of Lyons, we now have a place to gather, work and recreate that not only fills us with pride but looks set to boost our economy and identity too.”

Lyons is currently working on the design of Devonport Living City Stage 2 — set to include a waterfront park and hotel.