Global Street Design Guide

Download caret-down
Table of Contents
gdci-stacked-color copy
Table of Contents

Global Street Design Guide

Case Study: Swanston St.; Melbourne, Australia

Location: Downtown CBD, City of Melbourne, Australia
Population: 4.4 million
Length: 1200 m–10 blocks
Right-of-Way: 30 m
Context: Mixed-Use (Office/Commercial/Residential) Main Street
Cost: 25.6 million AUD (18.8 million USD) for design and construction of phases 1 and 2
Funding: Public
Max. Speed: 10 km/h


Swanston Street is one of the main north-south streets in the city of Melbourne, lined on either side with a number of iconic  andmarks.

Once a very congested and polluted street, it is today an example of pedestrian-oriented and transit-priority street design.


  • Strengthen the identity of the city and enhance user experience and access for shoppers, visitors, workers, cyclists, and transit users.
  • Create more attractive, democratic, and safe public spaces.
  • Provide spaces where people can gather and meet.
  • Provide spaces for art and events.



Key Successes

Providing an improved retail environment.

Providing an efficient, equitable, and comfortable public transport experience.

High-quality streetscape design, which reflects the unique characteristics of the city.

Newly constructed tram stops brought in a shared zone, changing cyclist, commuter, and pedestrian behavior.

In an innovative outreach strategy, comedians were engaged to work with users to understand the new spatial arrangement and the changed traffic conditions.

Key Elements

Increased sidewalk width.

Improved legibility of the street.

Dedicated cycle lanes.

Raised tram platforms to allow universal access.

Removal of taxi and vehicle access at all times.

Service, delivery, and emergency vehicle access maintained.

High-quality finishes, including bluestone and granite paving, custom designed lighting, furniture, and signature planting.

Transit stops located along public destinations where possible, such as City Square and the State Library.

Lessons Learned

Community engagement throughout the project ensured information sharing and engagement with the community throughout design development. A full-time community liaison officer kept local retailers and relevant stakeholders informed and dealt with issues as they emerged throughout the construction period.


Public Agencies
City of Melbourne, Yarra Trams, VicRoads, Victoria Police, Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure

Private Group and Partnerships
Australian Industry Group, Australian Retail Association

Citizen Associations and Unions
Bicycle Victoria, Transport Workers Union

Designers and Engineers
City of Melbourne

Project Timeline (Phase 1 and 2)


Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.