The Oxford dictionary describes the noun ‘Drive’ as ‘an excursion or journey in a vehicle’ (Turner,1987, p.316). This is how Coronation Drive currently manifests itself. However, what is the experience of this excursion or journey in a vehicle? A drive is not a pleasant or enjoyable one, particularly for a passenger if the streetscape attached is not formidable. The drive is not an inviting or accommodating place to be as a pedestrian or public user either.
After driving along Coronation Drive many times, I have found it to be frustrating and arduous with dense traffic and complex signals, remedied only by its affording views of the river and city. Walking at street level, is disconcerting as it is oppressive, uncomfortable and generally unappealing due to its lack of shade and close streetscape frontages. The experience on the riverbank bikeway is a different experience entirely. It is unexpectedly relaxing and endearing. By traversing its marked paths, I have realized that Coronation Drive is actually an entire river reach of prime waterfront land, predominantly dedicated to automobile use. It is also a peculiarly a prominent and exclusive street where many corporate conglomerates seek to establish their offices, despite its lack of public access, provisions and vibrancy.
This thesis aims, by using Coronation Drive as a case study, to provide research into great streets, what their attributes are and how in their design can benefit people. The realization that great streets can serve to benefit people rather automobiles as is the traditional belief. This thesis attempts the investigation of Coronation Drive as a street and streetscape with the intention of discovering how it functions in these modes, how it compares to great streets and to examine whether improvements can be made to its present form given its contextual circumstances.
This thesis has subsequently been divided into three chapters. First it was decided that a study discovering how it was manifested in earlier times would be conducted. As Coronation Drive still displays prominent historical buildings and an ideal city location, it was anticipated that a summary of historic accounts would reveal the foundations and demonstrated signs of developing into a great street. This development has not been accomplished in modern times.
In researching evidence supporting this theory, it was determined that an evaluation of how Coronation Drive’s current street and streetscape would compare to evidence on those already acknowledged as great ones. By consulting the expert research of Allan Jacobs in his book ‘Great Streets’, an evaluation was achieved. It was guided by street criteria and requirements that Jacobs recommends. The evaluation supported that Coronation Drive was not performing as a great street and indicated why and where it was failing.
Having substantiated that Coronation Drive was not performing as Jacobs construes a great street does. In realising these short comings, the third chapter has been dedicated to the analysis of strategies relating to street and streetscape design. Their empirically application on Coronation Drive was subsequently conveyed. The inquiry into new urbanism practices discovered street design principles and strategies, that when applied appropriately, endeavor to re-establish streets, streetscapes and neighbourhoods as community-building and people prioritising places. Street design principles and strategies they have traditionally exhibited this. The applications considered in this thesis indicated that in the future, with the correct designing and development of Coronation Drive’s neighbourhood, street and streetscape constituents, principally its roadway and buildings it could be rendered as a more public, vibrant and attractive street. Accomplishing this would then make the journey of Coronation Drive, both on foot and in vehicle, a most distinguished and formidable experience to be had even in the scope of Brisbane.