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August 9, 2019

Projects putting people first

Adelaide is setting the pace with urban renewal projects centred on the needs of people and these have become sought-after destinations for work, study, life and play.

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  • Words: Joshua Fanning

It’s a cold Wednesday evening in late autumn and people from around Adelaide are flocking to Bowden’s industrially chic Plant 4 market.

Kerrie and her daughter, Ella, from Salisbury are having their regular girls’ night out and Ella’s favourite gnocchi; the Tropeano family of Springfield are here for ice creams and the kids’ activities on the mezzanine floor; while Deborah of Thebarton and Elena of Mile End are catching up over a meal.


This article was produced in collaboration with Renewal SA.

It’s all happening under the sawtooth roof of a former electrical components factory, which, whilst once a centre of heavy industry, has become the beating heart of the new Bowden.

It’s now an enviable, inner-city neighbourhood, master-planned to meet the needs and aspirations of the people who live there – and those who want to.

Bowden is being redeveloped by Renewal SA on behalf of the State Government and in partnership with the private sector, offering apartments, terrace homes and family-sized townhouses at a range of price points.

Renewal SA acting chief executive, Mark Devine

“Bowden epitomises a neighbourhood designed to put people first,” says Renewal SA acting chief executive, Mark Devine.

“It ticks the boxes for what many people now want in a place to make their home – it’s walkable, it’s sustainable, it’s very convenient to the city, the beautiful parklands and public transport, and it has been carefully designed to blend its industrial heritage with the new.

“But more than that, Bowden has a real sense of community and that has a lot to do with the fact that it’s got communal facilities and activities, such as landscaped outdoor areas and play equipment, the community garden, and events such as outdoor cinema screenings, exhibitions and family activities.

“All of these give people a chance to really get to know their neighbours, and we certainly get feedback that it’s one of the things that people love most about living here.”

This multi-faceted approach is integral to other urban renewal projects led by Renewal SA.

Tonsley Innovation District sprawls across 61 hectares in the southern suburbs. Once the realm of Mitsubishi Motors, now it is home to leading business names like Siemens, Tesla and ZEN Energy, as well as Flinders University and TAFE SA.

“There’s now about 1400 people working at Tonsley, which is more than when the last car rolled off the production line in 2008, and about 6,500 students,” Mark says.

“This has been achieved by delivering on a masterplan, which was written after extensive consultation with industry and the local community. The aim is to develop Tonsley as a mixed use precinct that combines industry, research and residential and which meet the needs of business, employees, academics, students and residents.”

The stunning, five hectare Main Assembly Building, or MAB, has been reimagined as an inviting, light-filled pavilion and recognised with a string of national and international awards. It offers flexible business tenancies and communal facilities, such as “urban forests,” play equipment and picnic areas, all open to the general public.

This year, the first residents will move into homes being built at Tonsley and plans are underway for a supermarket, speciality shops, cafes and offices.

Another prime site in Adelaide being opened up for business people, researchers, students and the community is Lot Fourteen, the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site, now being transformed into an innovation neighbourhood.

“Lot Fourteen will provide jobs, business opportunities and experiences for South Australians in deep tech industries, business, culture and the arts,” Mark said.

“It will be a place where people will come to work, to do business, to meet and collaborate, to study and do research, or to experience a range of cultural and arts attractions.”

This visionary State Government project has secured tenants of the calibre of the Australian Institute of Machine Learning, the new Australian Space Agency, Space Discovery Centre and Mission Control Centre, and home-grown innovators like satellite developer Inovor Technologies and medical diagnostics firm Presagen.

The new Gallery for Aboriginal Art and Cultures and the International Centre for Food, Hospitality and Tourism Studies will also be developed at Lot Fourteen, which will combine striking new builds with its gracious heritage-listed buildings.

Seamless landscape design will make the site inviting to the public, connecting it with the buzzing East End entertainment precinct, the university campuses next door and Adelaide Botanic Garden, creating a place for all South Australians to enjoy.

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