Yagan Square

09 Jun 2020

Ahead of Green Building Day on 16 June we caught up with Caryn Earnshaw, Manager Yagan Square. Caryn takes us through how the site’s history was acknowledged and will be taken into the future for both locals and visitors to enjoy and share.

With its digital tower and spectacular lighting display, Yagan Square has one foot in the future, but at the same time, these features have a foot in the past. How has Perth’s history been acknowledged with this project?

Yagan Square has been home to Perth’s central train station and rail lines since 1851 and holds a historically significant place in the heart of the city. Before European settlement, the area was a significant location for Aboriginal people, of particular importance to Noongar women, with the historic lakes which originally occupied the site serving as a food source and meeting place. The strong Aboriginal narrative that runs through the square incorporates stories from the Whadjuk people - exploring themes of place, people, animals, birds and landscape; all of which shape and create a strong sense of place. These stories have influenced various elements of Yagan Square; the Digital Tower symbolising the reeds once found here and the 14 Noongar language groups, the Digital Canopies symbolising the ancient lakes, the tracks and pathways integrated in the design acknowledging the site’s history as a place to meet and come together.  

One day a forest of trees will form a canopy within the square and Indigenous plantings weave their way through the precinct. Why is biodiversity a big part of this project?

Yagan Square showcases the unique and diverse qualities of Western Australian flora and includes native species found throughout Perth and across the State, featuring characters and colours of unique Western Australian wildflowers. More than 60 mature eucalyptus and peppermint trees were planted across the square, designed to provide a shade canopy within the open spaces and diverse landscaping. Visiting bees are also a unique feature of this diverse mix of wildflowers and native trees and are beneficial for the development of the varied species at Yagan Square.

You've managed to integrate a playground, eateries, art and access to public transport all in the one place, meaning the space can be enjoyed by CBD workers, families, commuters and tourists. What has feedback been like from those who have visited already?

More than two million people passed through Yagan Square in the first two years since opening. The playscape and family-friendly amenities, universal design and nature elements, have drawn families and seniors, who may not otherwise visit the city, back into the CBD and earned acclaim from the media, parents, tourists and visitors of all ages – winning Yagan Square a four-star rating on the popular destination website, TripAdvisor. Thousands have gathered to watch major events on the digital screen, while hundreds have attended free events at the square. Combined with new high-tech features and other modern interpretations of the site’s rich past, Yagan Square has become a place that embraces local history and culture in a way that provides an exciting tourist experience and vision for tomorrow.

Yagan Square has achieved a Five Star Green Star Public Building Design rating - what are some of the stand out credit achievements? 

To connect with surrounding infrastructure and to accommodate the site’s diverse typography, the design demanded a multi-functional, multi-level solution. Longevity was a key component of the design, to ensure the public space lasts many generations. Permeable paving surfaces maximise water infiltration to trees and water catchment, and reuse includes two rainwater capture tanks. Waste management and recycling is evident in the recyclables bins positioned in key spaces and the unique dry waste dehydrator system – the first of its kind in a Perth public space.