Frequent Apple collaborator Foster + Partners has gone back to the drawing board for their plans to build a flagship Apple store in Melbourne, Australia’s Federation Square. The original scheme was unveiled back in December of last year, and the public pushed back over the location, the “Pizza Hut pagoda” design, and the potential demolition of the Yarra Building. Federation Square spans nearly eight acres and serves as Melbourne’s main public square, the result of a government-mandated reclamation of the industrial land on the banks of the Yarra River in 1999. The architectural design competition for the square was won by a coalition of teams including Lab Architecture Studio, led by Donald Bates, Karres en Brands Landscape Architects, and the local firm Bates Smart. Donald Bates is acting in an advisory role for the proposed Apple store project. The original Federation Square design includes an eclectic collection of three-story buildings organized around a central plaza. Each building is clad in zinc, glass, and sandstone, often in a seemingly-random, fractalized pattern. The square contains a number of cultural resources, including the Ian Potter Centre for Australian art, and the Koorie Heritage Trust in the Yarra Building. The group responsible for maintaining the square, Fed Square Pty Ltd, has been quick to point out that the area has always had private retailers, and that the square operates on a commercial model. Foster + Partners’ original plan for Apple Federation Square would have replaced the three-story Yarra Building with a two-story glass “pagoda” meant to open up views of the river. The glass cube would have been enlivened by two bronze skirts, resembling a double-height version of Foster’s flagship store in Chicago. After Melbourne residents took to the internet, local council meetings, and workshops to protest, a steering committee was set up to gather input on what the public would like to see included. The revised building takes the aforementioned concerns into account and attempts to better engage the existing buildings in the square and the landscaped river to the south. The new building is much blockier and top-heavy than its previous iteration. The large rectangular top half seems to levitate when viewed from above as it cantilevers off of a smaller base and creates space for an array of rooftop solar panels. The change includes a public balcony overlooking the river and over 5,300 square feet of public space. Still, these changes aren’t enough for those who feel an Apple store is the wrong choice for Federation Square, full stop. The group Citizens for Melbourne is vowing to fight the addition, arguing that Foster + Partners have simply swapped a “Pizza Hut pagoda” for an “iPad”. If construction continues as planned, Apple Federation Square will open in 2020. Demolition on the Yarra Building is slated for 2019.
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Opposition to Foster + Partners-designed Apple flagship store in Melbourne is mounting, as local politicians petition the Victoria state government to withdraw planning permission without significant revision to the store’s design. Criticism of the Apple store stems from worries that the two-story, pagoda-inspired pavilion, composed of glass curtain walls and metal cladding, is not contextual with the bulky and deconstructivist character of LAB Architecture Studio’s Federation Square. Moreover, the construction of a new flagship store entails the demolition of the Yarra Building, a three-story structure that is home to an organization that promotes and celebrates Aboriginal culture. Its replacement with a commercial structure is perceived to run counter to the civic role of the urban campus. Opened in 2002, Federation Square is a 7.9-acre civic precinct located in the center of Melbourne. The complex is renown for its fractal composition and diverse cladding materials, which include zinc, a range of sandstones, and glass. One year after opening, the city-block-sized development became the most awarded project in the history of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. Federation Square has evolved into an integral component of Melbourne’s cultural scene, and is home to a number of public institutions, including the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the National Gallery of Victoria. Since 2016, Apple has eyed Melbourne’s Federation Square as a site for a new flagship store. Foster + Partners is a longstanding collaborator with Apple, designing numerous stores as well as the company’s new Apple Park campus. Advocates for the new Apple store view the project as a financial boon for Federation Square. As reported by ABC, the regional government estimates that the flagship store will deliver an extra two million visitors annually and create 250 construction jobs, as well as 200 permanent positions. Additionally, the Foster + Partners proposal includes a 5,380-square-feet extension of public space towards the Yarra River. Outside of design complaints, criticism has also been lodged at the state government for their lack of public consultation during the planning process. Citizens for Melbourne, an advocacy group for public space composed of many architects, characterizes the demolition of the Yarra Building and the construction of the Apple store as a back-door corporate takeover of public space. Interestingly, architect Donald Bates, whose practice Lab Architecture Studio was responsible for designing Federation Square, supports the idea of the Apple flagship on the plaza. Peter Davidson, the former co-director and designer of Lab Architecture Studio, has not yet commented on the alteration of Federation Square. The construction of Apple Federation Square is set to begin in 2019 and finish in 2020.
Zaha Hadid is designing another skyscraper in Australia. Following designs for a trio of towers in Brisbane and a pair of towers in Gold Coast, the London-based architect has just submitted plans for another tower, this time in Melbourne. Like the Brisbane and Gold Coast towers, the proposed project, a 54-story mixed-use skyscraper, also employs a sculptural, tapered expression, creating more open space at the base. Despite the notion that Melbourne is reaching an oversupply of residential housing units, the tower will comprise 420 apartments, 118,000 square feet of retail space, and 60,000 square feet of commercial office space. “If more residential units are not supplied to meet demand, prices will simply become too expensive,” Zaha Hadid Architects Director Gianluca Racana told Australia’s Financial Review. Other features of the project include a public ground-level plaza as well as a new north-south laneway connecting Collins Street, where the tower will be located, with adjacent Francis Street. Due to recent height and density restrictions for the Central Business District set forth by Minister of Planning Richard Wynne, the development of Hadid’s newest Australian tower was delayed. Plans for the project underwent significant height reduction to comply with the new rules, which have been criticized by developers since they were announced this past September. Even with the alterations to its design, the project’s plot ratio is still beyond the maximum requirement allowed under the new law. The developer is hoping that the project’s proposed contributions to the public realm, including the public plaza and the new thoroughfare, will prove exceptional when plans are sent to the minister for approval.
Honoring the forgotten: Melbourne-based artist Robbie Rowlands makes Detroit’s abandoned houses come to life
The deteriorating floorboards and walls of abandoned homes appear to defiantly reassert their existence in artist Robbie Rowlands’ exhibition, Intervention. While on residency in Detroit, Michigan, the Melbourne-based artist drew attention to abandoned houses by ripping out certain sections and creating track-like extensions of their fixtures—so that the otherwise nondescript wall seems to implore, “pay attention to me.” The idea is to take a rundown structure and bring it back to life, even if only in the metaphorical sense, saving inanimate objects from forgetfulness by giving them an unprecedented reincarnation. Rowlands thus navel-gazes on the nature of decay to convey the truism that we only pay attention to these ever-present objects when they begin to break down. Most of Rowlands’ pieces resemble rollercoaster tracks gone haywire as sections of the pockmarked wall curl outward and sweep the floor. Intervention consists of pieces sporting forlorn, personifying titles like Singled out, Sorry for the Intrusion, and Feeling exposed. To Die with No Fear features the boards of a gutted shed curled on a dusty floor, illuminated by a single shaft of light through a chink in the disintegrated woodwork. Rowlands’ previous work involved cut-up pianos, an overturned basketball hoop cut into sections, spiraling cartoonishly over the ground as if made from rubber. Rowlands also eviscerated a desk, cutting it, too, into sections to make it look vaguely like it was raising its wings in a “notice me” overture. “If the former object is largely unrecognizable in the new sculpture, the process is not one of violence. Rather, there is a sense of redemption, as if the object has been liberated from obsolescence, from forgetfulness,” writer Simon Cooper wrote in an essay accompanying Rowlands’ Disintegration exhibition in 2008.
British architect Amanda Levete reveals weather-responsive “forest canopy” design for Melbourne’s MPavilion 2015
Seeking to recreate the audiovisual experience of a rainforest within urban environs, London-based architect Amanda Levete has unveiled a weather-responsive forest canopy for Melbourne’s 2015 MPavilion. The second-edition annual pavilion, set to open in October at the Queen Victoria Gardens, is Australia’s answer to London’s emblematic Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. The Stirling Prize winner and founder and principal of architecture and design studio AL_A used the latest nautical engineering technology to convincingly mimic the phenomenology of flowers swaying in the wind for an experience somewhat resembling an ant’s world. Levete’s design consists of a series of bendable carbon-fiber poles supporting a roof of translucent, “seemingly fragile” petals made from composite materials she created through tête-à-têtes with a yacht fabricator. Each one measures 10–16 feet wide and is less than 0.4 inches thick. The petals moonlight as speakers that can record and playback the daily soundscape that occurs beneath the canopy. These amplifiers are then wired seamlessly through carbon-fiber poles. By night, LED lights enhance the “dappled and dreamy” ambiance. The performance space within the pavilion will be oriented to play up views of Melbourne’s skyline to the north—which could potentially include a Beyoncé-inspired tower soon—and a treeline to the east. “Our design subverts the norms of immovable. It embraces and amplifies such distinctions, so that it speaks in response to the weather and moves with the wind rather than trying to keep it at bay,” said Levete. Joining her on the project team are Australian manufacturer mouldCAM, builders Kane Construction, and engineering firm Arup. Initiated by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation with support from the City of Melbourne and the Victorian State Government, MPavilion is a free four-month program of talks, workshops and performances by creative collaborators. The inaugural pavilion by architect Sean Godsell, which attracted more than 640,000 visitors to 317 free events, featured walls that lifted up on pneumatic arms in resemblance to a “blooming flower.” Unlike the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, which stipulates that the designer must not have previously built anything in the country, MPavilion—set to run from October 6, 2015 to February 7, 2016—requires only that the candidate be an “outstanding architect.”
Piggybacking off the axiom that sex sells and anything Beyoncé-related has the potential to break the Internet, Australian architecture firm Elenberg Fraser has nabbed planning approval for a “Beyoncé tower” inspired by the superstar’s hourglass form. The Premiere Tower in Melbourne features an undulating shape that swells in and out at various points – purportedly a concession to “structural efficiency” in response to climate, wind, and “the limitations of the site.” To develop the unique form, the architects used parametric modeling, a type of responsive, computer-guided design where users can program in site-specific data so that the design corrects itself proportional to site constraints. “This project is the culmination of our significant research. The complex form – a vertical cantilever – is actually the most effective way to redistribute the building’s mass, giving best results in terms of structural dispersion, frequency oscillation and wind requirements,” Elenberg Fraser insists in a statement. More specifically, the 68-story structure is inspired by the dancers in Queen B’s music video, Ghost, released separately from her single ‘Haunted’ off her 2013 self-titled album. In it, naked dancers attempt to escape from cocoons of stretchy white fabric that adhere to their svelte figures, creating – if one were to really push it – amorphous towers of curve and sinew. Jokes have abounded over the Internet about the appealing possibility of living in Beyoncé's famous posterior. “For those more on the art than science side, we will reveal that the form does pay homage to something more aesthetic. We’re going to trust that you’ve seen the music video for Beyoncé’s Ghost,” say the architects. Located at 134 Spencer Street at the west end of Melbourne’s central business district, the tower will contain 660 apartments and 160 hotel rooms. The entire structure will be mounted on a stepped podium to be occupied by retail tenants. Public house the Savoy Tavern, which reopened in 2014 after being derelict for nearly 20 years, will be demolished to make way for the tower. Presently, the entire precinct will be replanned, with the goal of respecting its heritage buildings. “The whole precinct is designed with a more long-term view to urban design, creating a self-sustaining development,” says Elenberg Fraser. Construction for the $350 million project is estimated at 40 months, with no completion date yet announced. Meanwhile, controversy has ensued over the building’s potential to overshadow nearby Batman Park and the north bank of the Yarra River. The skyscraper, whose “spiraling curves recall the twists and turns of a woman dancing in black cloth,” joins the dubious leagues of MAD’s curvaceous, twisting skyscrapers in Mississauga, Canada, dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe towers” by local residents. The Chinese firm insists that the design arose as an “organic” antithesis to the boxy typology of urban buildings. With backup dancers becoming the architectural inspiration du jour, perhaps we can next expect a building modeled after Katy Perry’s Left Shark, AKA the Super Bowl Halftime Shark, which recently spawned a lookalike iPhone case designed by Perry herself.
Dutch ecopreneur Joost Bakker designs zero-waste homes, repurposes carcasses for his restaurant and delivers flowers
Vertical gardens fully obscure the home of eco garden entrepreneur Joost Bakker like a mossy overgrowth. The eco entrepreneur, a high school dropout and florist by trade, also designs zero-waste restaurants, composting toilets, freestanding vertical green walls, and houses built from straw for a laundry list of clients. His 6,500 square foot home in Monbulk, Australia, occupies a six-acre former cherry orchard, and is covered with a steel mesh normally used to reinforce concrete. This metal scaffolding holds 11,000 terra cotta pots of strawberries and shields the home from harsh hilltop sunlight. Beneath the mesh screen, the inner walls are insulated with straw bales behind a facade of corrugated, galvanized iron. “Our house stays beautifully warm in winter and cool in summer,” Bakker, who has parlayed the pet peeve of waste-producing industry into a career, told Gardenista. "Most people don't realize that straw is the world's most abundant waste product with over 1 billion farmers producing it. It's basically the stalk that's left over after the heads of rice, wheat, barley, and other grains are harvested." The Netherlands native harvests rainwater to wash dishes, mills his own oats, and folds others’ organic rejects into his own compost pile. The DIY home itself exemplifies the “reduce, reuse, recycle” ethos, built on a recycled concrete slab foundation and sporting walls sided with 150-year-old wood planks once used in the Woolloomooloo wharves in Sydney. Repurposed waste materials prevail indoors, too, with industrial-felt curtains shielding the windows, training-wire ceiling lamps, and unpolished plywood floors. On the driveway sits a spherical sculpture by the enterprising Bakker: a white ball of yarn bedecked with white butterflies. After turning restaurateur, carcasses have become the serial entrepreneur’s latest preoccupation. Last July Bakker opened Brothl, a high-end soup canteen where otherwise discarded though nevertheless reusable beef bones, seafood shells and chicken frames form the base of Bakker’s pungent, nutrient-dense soups. Bakker’s businesses enjoy the same cross-fertilization and managerial economies of a conglomerate: He trades the flowers he grows in his garden for bones to make soup at his restaurant, using the leftovers to feed his garden, which in turn supplies his restaurant.
A team led by Herzog & de Meuron has been unanimously selected for the redevelopment of Melbourne’s historic Flinders Street Station after beating out a star-studded shortlist that that included Zaha Hadid and Grimshaw. The team will be awarded a $1 million prize. The winning design aims to transform the iconic 1909 train station into a 21st century civic center and transportation hub, preserving the most beloved features of the landmark building while integrating it into a contemporary urban context. The proposal also incorporates cultural, retail, and civic programs within an adjacent 500,000 square foot site along the Yarra River, including a public art gallery, plaza, amphitheater, marketplace, and permanent space for arts and cultural festivals. While the old Flinders Street Station has become an icon of the city, especially the copper dome, grand arch, and distinctive clocks of its main façade, it could barely handle the nearly 100,000 straphangers who step onto its platforms each day. As Mark Loughnan of Melbourne-based Hassell told Building Design, “Today it is a place people generally choose to hurry through. Our design makes it a destination, with new buildings an features that will attract people to the precinct.” Borrowing formally from the arches of the existing station and unbuilt features of the original design, the new station is composed of long, rippling white vaults, perforated to allow for natural light and ventilation on train platforms. The vaults follow the alignment of the tracks, curving slightly to intuitively lead commuters through to the central plaza and outdoor amphitheater along the river’s edge. Across the plaza, four similarly styled, straight, white vaults house the civic, cultural, and retail functions. The new design is meant to ease commuter and pedestrian flows through thought the station while readying the site for potential future growth. According to Melbourne's Herald Sun, initial estimates place the cost of the new station between $1 billion-$1.5 billion.