‘Chapel Street’ diverse and vibrant contemporary urban culture

‘Chapel Street’ is synonymous with contemporary style, fashion, food, arts, entertainment and, increasingly, high-density inner-city apartment living.

The precinct reflects a diverse and vibrant contemporary urban culture, encompassing many contradictions; .…old and new, ordered and disordered, polished and raw, ordinary and extraordinary.

Located within the City of Stonnington, 3 km from the Melbourne CBD, and connecting the hearts of South Yarra, Prahran and Windsor; the Chapel Street precinct has developed a local, national and international reputation as one of Australia’s most distinctive places.

From its early beginnings in the 19th century as a local shopping strip, Chapel Street has continued to evolve and respond to the social and economic impacts of wars, depression, recessions, and competitive retailing pressures from the major stores in the central city of Melbourne, the major regional shopping centres and other inner-urban ‘village’ centres.

This continuing capacity for survival through re-invention, local and regional relevance, and reflection of the eclecticism of contemporary culture, is critical to our understanding of what contributes to the making of ‘resilient’ cities.

This paper will examine the life of the Chapel Street precinct through the multiple perspectives of the place, the past and present, the pursuits, the people, the pressures, the patterns, the plans and the projects.

It concludes with an analysis of the DNA of the place; and how a greater understanding of these factors might inform contemporary approaches to more resilient forms of city planning, urban design and urban management.

David Morrison
Urban Design Advisor
City of Stonnington 



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