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Past to present

Dairy Road sits on Ngunnawal land, an area called Biyaligee. Across the limestone floodplain that is now called Canberra, fertile grasslands and forests were fed by freshwater streams and springs. Traditional Custodians hunted kangaroos, koalas, emus, possums, waterfowl, snakes, lizards and turtles; fished collaboratively; trapped frogs, fish and yabbies; and dug for yam daisies. Trees and plants were harvested to construct shelters, coolamons and canoes, to weave baskets and rope, and as insect repellent and healing ointments.

Since colonisation, Dairy Road has served many purposes – a dairy farm, a place of food production, for military training. An important part of its recent history is as a place of light industry – the production of small goods sold to the people who use them. Rather than following the seemingly worldwide trend of relegating such activity to the outskirts of a city, Molonglo sees the benefit of retaining light industry on site, now and in the future. This type of work supports a local economy and allows for experimentation, innovation and problem-solving.

So far, two existing central industrial warehouses have been adapted to spaces for all kinds of making; acknowledging it as a vital and valuable part of the city. Craig Tan Architects and Oculus Landscape Architecture delivered the design. The warehouses, now named Building 3, date back to the 1970s and were used for government storage. They aren’t “significant” in the sense that they are not heritage-listed and haven’t been designed by well-known architects. But they have their own significance in terms of usefulness, character and resilience.

Outdoor works have replaced asphalt and concrete and seen the perimeters and in between spaces of the central warehouses converted to gardens and public space.

At the tip of these gardens sits LESS, a public artwork and place designed by Chilean art and architecture studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen. LESS consists of 36 concrete pillars and a circular ramp that leads up to a square viewing platform. It is a public space but its exact usage is undefined. It is hoped that it will change the social landscape at Dairy Road by welcoming tenants and visitors to activate it as they see fit.

In 2021, Dairy Road was rezoned by the ACT Government, expanding on its current industrial activity and allowing for commercial, light industrial, residential, creative and cultural activity. Since the rezoning approval, Molonglo has begun work on the masterplan for the site collaborating with a team of internationally renowned architects. The masterplan will be realised over the next 10 years, fostering the emergence of an intentional and caring community.


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