A couple of weeks ago Urban Melbourne touched on some design requirements that would define Fed Square East, prior to the release of the Expression of Interest campaign on September 15th.
In a two-part-icle (yes I just invented a new term) piece I jump in a time machine and travel back to my university days to take a look at two different schemes I developed during the course of my studies at RMIT. Each sets out to achieve various objectives based on a number of similar considerations relating to necessary program, sight lines, connections both physical and visual with the Yarra and a few Melbourne landmarks, althoughthe outcomes are hugely different.
The Federation Square East site is bounded by Federation Square/Russell Street to the west, Flinders Street to the north, Batman Avenue to the east and Birrarung Marr to the south and totals 3.3 hectares; 2.3ha above the rail lines and 1ha that is largely used for car parking.
The first concept was part of a design studio entitled FX-TENSION and was run very similar to a design ideas competition so the level of resolution at a micro scale wasn't as critical as the macro planning. The brief was to develop a proposal for a building or series of buildings which would bring together the three schools of architecture (at the time - Monash has since joined) under one roof, as well as an extension to the NGV's Ian Potter Centre housing the Oceania and Asia collections.
Additionally a commercial component was required to facilitate the development of the other areas as well as making the decking over the railyards viable. A theme of camouflage was carried throughout the semester and was to be the basis for any facade strategy employed.
I mention this as I believe one of the shortcomings of the Flinders Street Station competition was the viability of proposed schemes relative to their commercial components. As much as I love Hassell's scheme the likelihood of it seeing the light of day hinges on its commercial offering; in this case a museum and gallery.
The Government would never be able to deliver such a project on its own (particularly with a $2b price tag) so either a Public Private Partnership comes into play whereby a developer in all likelihood would reconfigure the western end of the station to accommodate a number of high-rises, or in the case of Fed Square East the site is handed over to the private sector to develop as they see fit with a number of criteria to be met before any formal engagement.
This Expression of Interest (EOI) is an opportunity to convey your interest and demonstrate the capability, capacity and innovation necessary to deliver a vibrant and commercially viable mixed use development of exceptional design quality at FSE without a capital contribution or regulatory relaxation by Government.
The Government is seeking Submissions that identify and explain the intended approach to development, design and integration of mixed uses that will fulfil the vision for the FSE Site. This information will be used to identify a short list of Respondents who will be invited to participate in the subsequent Request for Proposal (RFP) stage of this Procurement Process.Major Projects Victoria
Without having seen the EOI documents for myself (you must register and log in to view them) one critical aspect that should be included in any future scheme is an extended Ian Potter Centre as per the brief we were given at university 6 years ago. Although this is rarely ever mentioned in the same breath as Fed Square East particularly in the media, the NGV had already outgrown its current digs 7 years ago.
Indigenous art was popular with locals and tourists, and the Ian Potter Centre, just five years old, had run out of space. A dedicated indigenous wing would be a "massive drawcard" for Melbourne.
But as a gateway building, such a gallery had to be "highly distinguished, monumental and significant" architecture. "It cannot be done on the cheap," he said. Preliminary costings show that such a building could cost about $150 million.
Dr Vaughan said the NGV's idea for a new wing was in draft form only. It was developed in anticipation that government and business would eventually extend decking over the Jolimont rail yards. He said it was crucial that any such project include a major cultural component. "We would like to book some space on the deck that the government and private sector will build for some other entirely different purpose."
Dr Vaughan said the NGV needed more space for indigenous, Asian and oceanic art. A key attraction for such a gallery would be a large multi-media display of rock paintings from around Australia.The Age September 22 2007
The existing design for Fed Square has largely future proofed itself by way of the 'Crossbar' structure that begins in the undulating plaza as the offices for SBS, puncturing through the atrium and NGV before poking out on the eastern facade, setting up the future extension of the gallery over the Russell Street extension. So it was with that key objective in mind that I set about designing the complex: an extension for the NGV to house its Asian and Oceanic collections.
This manifested itself in a series of origami eels which were an evolution of Federation Square's 'filaments' that informed the formal and programmatic planning of spaces and buildings. Drawing upon the ideas and inspirations for the Birrarung Wilam (River Camp) artwork that sits within Birrarung Marr I combined these themes with an idea-gram produced earlier in the semester for the site.
The public spaces were also key to the design with an emphasis on good connections to the river via a large cascading series of steps down to the river and an extension of the footbridge through Birrarung Marr over the rail lines to Flinders Street and adjacent to a new north facing public space.
Rather than try and remember and regurgitate everything I did point by point I have decided to include the pages from my final presentation in the slideshow below which are lighter on text but visually (hopefully) quite easy to understand.
Look out for part two tomorrow for an alternate, more ambitious scheme I think befitting of Fed Square East.