A closer look at the latest round of Melbourne Metro Station Designs

A closer look at the latest round of Melbourne Metro Station Designs
A closer look at the latest round of Melbourne Metro Station Designs

Having worked on both the Initial Reference Design (IRD) and Reference Design (RD) for the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel during my years at Grimshaw, I have maintained an ongoing interest in the project from afar, as development plans for each station along the twin 9km tunnels are finessed and new renders are released.

The key theme for us when working on the Reference Designs of each station was "celebrating the engineering" and designing a series of components (or kit of parts) which could be upgraded over time as required or advancements in technology, rather than making wholesale changes to the architecture or aesthetics to respond to the design trend of the time.

This translated into a line-wide identity where concrete and steel structural elements were exposed for all to see and reflected the construction methodology and technologies employed. This reflected the design of metro stations around the world such as those in Copenhagen, Budapest, London etc.

The concept of a line-wide identity was further explored with platform and concourse levels generally consistent across the mined cavern stations  (CBD North and South) and again for the cut and cover station box stations (Arden, Parkville and Domain). Each station would then reflect its surrounding context as you ascended up towards street level, particularly at the upper concourse and station entries.

A closer look at the latest round of Melbourne Metro Station Designs
Reference Design for Parkville's Platform level. Image: Grimshaw Architects

The latest round of renders, which were released on Wednesday, carried with them a "Concept Image" watermark and based on my own experiences the likelihood is that the designs will continue to evolve and be refined to respond to the construction methodology and stakeholder feedback.

The team of architects, which comprises and is led by local (but global) firm HASSELL includes international offices Weston Williamson and Rogers Stirk Harbour who were brought in following Cross Yarra Partnership's successful bid for the stations. In a joint statement the design team describes the key drivers which influenced the station designs;

Passenger experience has been at the heart of our design. The stations open up to fresh air and natural light and the underground spaces have a generous civic quality that will feel safe and intuitive to use.

But this project isn’t just about adding new stations, it actually creates five extraordinary new public buildings and transformative public places for Melbourne. Together these new places will add a brand new layer to Melbourne, amplifying and connecting to what makes our city one of the world’s most liveable.

We’re proud to be part of this project that will help shape the way the city works today, into the next century and beyond and we hope that Melbourne will grow to be proud of the new metro.

- HASSELL, Weston Williamson and Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners

What has become clear that with the reduced construction programme and station completions being brought forward by a year that the designs of each station have had to respond accordingly. 

Anzac Station (formerly Domain Station)

A closer look at the latest round of Melbourne Metro Station Designs
Before & After - L: Domain Station & R: Anzac Station. Images: Rail Projects Victoria

"Anzac Station has been designed as a ‘pavilion in the park’ – an integrated public building and landmark that connects seamlessly with surrounding parklands."

Above ground the design has generally remained true to the first concept released, with the element of reality and practicality added to the pavilion's canopy, which previously almost appeared to float over the station entry at the tram interchange.

Dual entries either side of St Kilda Road within the Shrine gardens and Albert Road Reserve allow passengers to cross the stretch of road below ground, removing the conflict with vehicles.

Below ground based on the renders provided, it would appear the line-wide identity has become more consistent across the stations, with the site-specific coloured bands across the OTE plenums now the bronze finish prevalent throughout all the stations. Likewise, the structural elements are treated with minimum fuss or need for unnecessary ornament.

Town Hall Station (formerly CBD South Station)

A closer look at the latest round of Melbourne Metro Station Designs
Before & After - L: CBD South Station & R: Town Hall Station. Images: Rail Projects Victoria

The first concept images for what was then CBD South Station featured a series of arches and vaulted spaces which were also reflected in some form at CBD North Station. The arches within the concourse area have since evolved into a forest of concrete structural branches supporting a web of beams set against a backdrop of solid and perforated metal panels.

At platform level, the vaults have been rationalised from a contoured fan vault into a more regular barrel vault, with bronze overlapping arches tacked on supporting the lighting and supported by large concrete columns, again reflecting the line-wide strategy, with some tweaking to reflect the cavern station construction. 

Above ground within Federation and City Square canopies over the entries reflect the respective locations with a lightweight  steel and glass structure at City Square and a more blade-like canopy at Fed Square drawing on the geometry of the architecture of the buildings there. Whether that is the final design is to be determined in light of the controversy surrounding Apple's potential move to the square and the architecture employed for its store.

Of particular note also, is the changing role of Flinders Lane in the precinct, which is slated to  "...become a shared street adjacent to City Square, with a raised surface to increase the scale of the square and link it to St Paul’s Cathedral and Chapter House Lane."

State Library Station (formerly CBD North)

A closer look at the latest round of Melbourne Metro Station Designs
Before & After - L: CBD North Station & R: State Library Station. Images: Rail Projects Victoria

The reflective iridescent arches within the main entry located on the corner of LaTrobe and Swanston Streets have been replaced with supersized concrete portal frames which span the full width of the entry save for the lobby and core areas set aside for the Over Site Development (OSD) which they will eventually support.

Once again the metallic panelling provides the surface treatment to the walls and soffits at street level. Glazing along LaTrobe Street provides the entry with light and visibility.

The platform level at State Library is essentially the same as at Town Hall Station.

According to the Metro Tunnel website "Existing laneways at Literature Lane and Stewart Street will be revitalised and extended to provide connections into the new station, opening up new walking routes and evenly distributing pedestrians around the precinct".  Swanston Street will be reconfigured to "enable widened footpaths, increasing space for pedestrians outside the new station and creating space for new trees to be planted."

It has not been confirmed whether the tiered amphitheatre entry at Franklin Street adjacent to RMIT has been retained in the latest round of designs - its origins tracing back to Reference Design. The southern footpath however, "will be widened to become a linear park with areas for socialising, outdoor dining, shade, gardens and public art." This forms part of a greater strategy to transform the street into a pedestrian promenade between Stewart and Victoria Streets. 

Parkville Station

A closer look at the latest round of Melbourne Metro Station Designs
Before & After - L: Parkville Station & R: Parkville Station. Images: Rail Projects Victoria

The construction of the station will see Grattan Street transformed into a ‘grand promenade,’ connecting some of Victoria’s most prominent institutions.

"The main station entry, on the northern side of Grattan Street outside the University of Melbourne, features a 50 metre long glass and steel canopy to draw natural light into the station concourse. The entrance has been designed to sit within the tree canopy to blend in with the surrounding environment. Natural light is also maximised in the concourse via light wells that allow light to penetrate from the surface to the station below."

The concourse level previously featured a ceiling comprising large staggered apertures of varying sizes allowing light into the station. These have since been rationalised and appear more as traditional skylight strips in response to the structural elements and construction of the station.

Down at platform level, Parkville features design features and finishes in keeping with North Melbourne and Anzac Stations.

North Melbourne Station (formerly Arden Station)

A closer look at the latest round of Melbourne Metro Station Designs
Before & After - L: Arden Station & R: North Melbourne Station. Images: Rail Projects Victoria

As the catalyst for the wider renewal of the Arden Precinct, the station design draws on the area's former industrial character and history with concrete and masonry forming the grand vaulted entry.

Earlier concepts also featured the use of brick throughout, with the cascading stairs down to platform level previously shown as being lined with brick paving.

The entrance will be raised 1.5m above ground level to respond to flooding.

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.

Tags: 
Melbourne Metro Rail Projects Victoria HASSELL Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners Weston Williamson Parkville North Melbourne Anzac Town Hall State Library

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AndrewDun
The design changes seem to have generally involved transition from whites and neutrals to coppers, bronzes and reds. Wondering if this was specifically selected as a unifying theme?
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Rohan Storey's picture
I do like the brick vault at Arden, but the changes in the CBD stations are disappointing - was rather looking forward to actual vaulting, but now its going to be concrete ribs or applied bronze arches - also hadnt realised that the platform levels of the 2 CBD station are the same - they should be visually different, so you immediately know which station youre at. It would be nice to know what the process behind these designs is, who is making the decisions ?

Lookingupatbuildings

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Melbcity's picture
The Domain/Anzac Station is the worst design and a lost opportunity for the local community. The underground station should have had provision for local amenity and local shops. It should have also been located more south towards Toorak Road. This will be the most empty and stark station environments on the network. We can chalk this up to another failure for the City of Melbourne Planning and Urban design teams. Not impressed with the Station name 'ANZAC. Would have been better of it was called 'Domain' or Botanical Gardens. As to the above ground design concept it looks like a Giant Skate Board. Boring as.

Melbcity

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