Maitland River Link
CHROFI with McGregor Coxall
Maitland Riverlink is a public project that crystallises new value for the regional centre of Maitland in New South Wales, both in terms of its identity and its assets. The project supports a revitalisation of the central business precinct, extending it beyond the main street to the river. The space acts as a kind of ‘public living room’ for the community, reactivating an unused part of town and drawing locals back to the river that is a fundamental part of Maitland’s heritage, while bringing tourists and visitors to the town.
In recent years, rural Maitland’s town centre had turned its back on the river, disconnecting it from its main commercial and community activities. A series of devastating floods meant locals no longer saw the river as an asset, but as a threat to the community. Working with McGregor Coxall, CHROFI identified an opportunity to help reframe that dynamic, then worked closely with Maitland City Council to find buildings that could be purchased and redeveloped to act as a pivot for the revitalisation of the centre of town.
Maitland Riverlink unites Maitland’s two key assets for the first time – its architecturally rich high street and the environmental amenity of the Hunter River – providing a greater experience for tourists and locals. The building is expressed as a ‘sculptural gateway’ that frames views to and from the river and attracts people to pass through the space. The timber and brick arch frames a covered space for community use. The building also houses a café and restaurant as well as public amenities.
The architecture has a strong civic presence in a street full of historic buildings and is a landmark when viewed from the river. For CHROFI, the project now stands as evidence that architects can, and should, be acting as agents and catalysts for social change rather than waiting for commissions in the traditional sense.
Photography: Brett Boardman and Simon Wood.