East Gate - A vision for Fed Square East and beyond...

Fed Square East: Some food for thought (Part Two)

Following on from part one is the conclusion to the two part-icle that is by comparison a contrast in scale and ambition to yesterday's more modest offering and a far more commercially driven scheme.

Featured as part of a submission I entered for the IAAC's 3rd Advanced Architecture Contest entitled The Self Sufficient City: Envisioning the Habitat of the Future. I was fortunate enough to have my entry included in the accompanying publication featuring 107 finalists from 34 countries; the only one from Australia which was quite a humbling experience. Even more so because the competition attracted 708 entries from over 118 countries.

Mixed-use tower soars above the Fed Square East site.

My entry was for a systematic approach to re-thinking how the current Melbourne CBD operates and opportunities to enhance, renew and re-invent it through adaptation of existing infrastructure coupled with a concentration of high-rise development along and adjacent to rail corridors rather than a free for all.

Some of the driving forces and guiding principles behind this scheme were derived from the now defunct Melbourne 2030 plan. I have included an extract below:

Melbourne 2030 – planning for sustainable growth is a 30-year plan to manage growth and change across metropolitan Melbourne and the surrounding region. It emphasises the city’s interdependence with regional Victoria, to provide maximum benefit to the whole State.

In the next 30 years, Melbourne will grow by up to one million people and will consolidate its reputation as one of the most liveable, attractive and prosperous areas in the world for residents, business and visitors.

In establishing and articulating this vision through a set of Principles and nine Key Directions, Melbourne 2030 provides a framework for governments at all levels to respond to the diverse needs of those who live and work in and near to Melbourne, and those who visit.

Melbourne 2030 is a plan for the growth and development of the metropolitan area. An important objective is to ensure that Melbourne retains the qualities that people enjoy about it. Despite a slowdown in population growth, Melbourne will grow substantially over the next 30 years. It is appropriate to plan for the capacity to comfortably absorb up to 620,000 extra households over that time while protecting and enhancing our existing suburbs.

The main thrust is to continue to protect the liveability of the established areas and to increasingly concentrate major change in strategic redevelopment sites such as activity centres and underdeveloped land. While a good supply of land for development will be maintained in growth areas, over time there will be a shift away from growth on the fringe of the city.

This will help prevent urban expansion into surrounding rural land. The trend towards fewer people in each household will continue to support demand for well-located apartment lifestyles around activity centres. This will be supported by an expanded and more attractive public transport system.

Melbourne 2030 focuses primarily on the metropolitan Melbourne urban area and the nearby non-urban areas. However, it also deals more broadly with the wider region where, increasingly, development is linked to and affected by metropolitan Melbourne in terms of commuting, business and recreation. Hence, Melbourne 2030 also considers the area between metropolitan Melbourne and the regional centres of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, and the Latrobe Valley.

Economic, social and environmental matters are integral to Melbourne 2030, but it is not an economic development plan, a community development strategy or a comprehensive environmental management plan. Rather, it gives a high-level overview of the directions metropolitan Melbourne is expected to take. Its clear focus is the management of future growth, land use and infrastructure investment. It will provide a vital context for other sectoral plans in areas like transport and housing.

Why do we need to look ahead?

Victorians face important choices about how metropolitan Melbourne and the surrounding region should develop in the next 30 years. Population and development pressures are changing the environment in which decisions have to be made, and are affecting the shape and the flavour of our city. Melbourne 2030 articulates a detailed plan that takes the long-term view and is based on consultation with the community.

Metropolitan Melbourne’s current shape reflects more than a century of work by those who developed the rail network from 1880 onwards, and by the generations of planners who crafted plans for the city since 1929 (see ‘Melbourne’s planning history’).

Melbourne 2030 builds on the earlier plans and the infrastructure we have inherited while responding to the new issues confronting us. It uses current views of the future and an understanding of the past as the basis for a long-term plan to mould the city.

It tackles these key questions – to which there are no simple or permanent answers:

  • how best can we provide for a growing population and ensure that we live within available resources of water, land and energy?
  • how should development be focused and what pattern of land use and transport should we invest in for a better future?
  • in which areas should we discourage or prevent development in order to retain the quality of natural environments across the Port Phillip and Westernport catchments and beyond?
  • what changes should we make to our lifestyles, the technologies we use and the way we organise the city to reduce resource usage and our impact on our living environment?
  • what additional social infrastructure will be needed to support a growing city, and how will we ensure this is available for all when it is needed?

While my scheme encompassed a greater area than the Fed Square East site including a re-imagined CBD, a revitalised Flinders Street and Northbank precinct, development of The Age and former Powerstation sites (keep in mind this was five years ago) and development of the airspace of the railyards north of Southern Cross Station.

For the purposes of this article I shall omit these aspects and focus on the Fed Square East site in addition to the eventual decking and development of the Jolimont railyards through to Richmond Station.

Site Plan.
  1. Mixed-use tower
  2. Research offices and labs
  3. Market and East Gate train station
  4. Pedestrian promenade
  5. East gate Village
  6. Coleman Park
  7. Warne Wetlands

The scheme while much more commercially oriented built on similar themes and concepts than the FX Tension design. The origami eels are still evident in parts and contribute to the form and massing of the 70-storey tower and the NGV extension is still included.

To get an idea of the basis for this plan I have included text extracts from my submission; again I would really be pushing the limits of my memory to otherwise try and recall every minute detail and reasoning behind every design decision I made. An overall summary of the submission:

The key principle being the idea of accommodating people in high density structures around activity centres, serviced by an extensive public transport system and bicycle network. This plan for Melbourne’s CBD is a template of sorts which could be applied to other activity centres in Greater Melbourne. Cars would be removed from the city centre, new train stations built, eco towers which generated they’re own power, collected, stored and recycled water and housed vertical farms through the use of hydroponics as well as a mix of housing and offices.

The 2030 version of Melbourne would best be described as a series of ‘suburbs’ and ‘vertical neighbourhoods,’ people wouldn’t need to travel great distances to get to work, school, shopping etc. all this would be possible either on foot or on bike. And when the need arose to travel greater distances the CBD’s trains and free trams rather than cars would be more than adequate. Open air car parks and the air space above railway lines would be developed, existing buildings particularly high rises would be upgraded, overhauled and adapted to and include other uses similar to the new ‘eco towers’.

And the idea behind the East Gate precinct:

The key component of the masterplan for the Melbourne CBD in 2030 is the redevelopment of the Jolimont railyards, which acts a physical and visual barrier between the Melbourne CBD and Yarra River.

The East Gate Precinct features a mix of office space, apartments, open space, shops at street level, a wetland, research labs for the development of sustainable technologies and materials, vertical farming, wind turbines, a landmark mixed-use tower, a market and a new train station to facilitate the new neighbourhood.

East Gate Precinct will be car free and will be serviced by trains and trams and residents and visitors will also be encouraged to walk or cycle. East Gate is to be used as a model for other transit oriented developments throughout greater Melbourne.

With a greater concentration of people in high density neighbourhoods, living and working within a 2km radius, reducing the need to travel great distances and should the need arise public transport would service this need.

With the population of Melbourne growing by approx. 1,000 people per week it is imperative that they are accommodated in areas serviced by public transport or where they are not required to commute large distances to work, live or relax, to reduce and eventually halt suburban sprawl.

The East Gate Precinct would also encourage greater community involvement in setting up and maintaining vertical gardens and farms within their own buildings and also encourage greater interaction between residents.

The buildings would collect rainwater, use recycled ‘grey’ water, and would be powered by wind turbines and solar panels incorporated on the roofs and into the facades of the buildings.

With that in mind please enjoy the images below of East Gate. Until next time.

High-rise 'eco-towers'


Aussie Steve's picture

Can we please get real here? That site plan above shows the removal of the Jollimont village! Purlease!

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Laurence Dragomir's picture
If that's all you can take from it I think you've missed the point.
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Martin Mankowski's picture

That's right. We all know the real point here is you've named the wetlands after Shane Warne. Disgrace! :)

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Laurence Dragomir's picture

Haha. I had completely forgotten that I did that.

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Riccardo's picture

Why do architects think they know planning? The function is more important than the pretty buildings.

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Riccardo's picture

Where are these 'adequate' trains the author suggests will make Fed square genuinely useable? I catch trains in Melbourne most days and have yet to see them. Instead I see gross unreliability, ridiculously long journey times and big holes in the timetable.

Off to Japan in a few hours so won't have to ruin my mental picture of what 'train' means for a while.

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Mark Baljak's picture

Sounds like a question for Public Transport Victoria?

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