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Beyond the Ridge - Central Station

Part 2 Project 2010
Aaron Massingham
University of Queensland Brisbane Australia
Brisbane is set within Australia’s South East Queensland region. Estimates suggest that its population will double from two, to four million by 2050. It is therefore reasonable to expect dramatic changes within what is popularly known as the ‘River City’ during our lifetime, making it critical to consider - and imagine - how we wish Brisbane to develop.

This proposal attempts to address these challenges by re-thinking the direction in which the central business district (CBD) will grow geographically. With current city development being squeezed through narrow corridors predominately around the river, it is proposed, that the city goes “beyond the ridge”, that is, makes a strategic move over Wickham Terrace toward the north and extends into the adjacent suburb of Spring Hill.

Whilst imagining the future, one must also acknowledge the development of a broader public transport network within Brisbane. The proposal therefore aims to place Central Station at the heart of a city-wide underground train system, whilst also creating a grand gateway for visitors arriving from the domestic and international airports. It also positions Brisbane as the focal point of a future city extending from the Sunshine Coast in the north, to the Gold Coast in the south.

More specifically, by considering the future of the city of Brisbane, together with view corridors to and from the CBD, it is possible to envisage a large “green lung” extending from Victoria Park in the North, through the Roma Street Parklands, Anzac and Post Office Square, and eventually meeting the river near the Harry Seidler Riverside precinct.

The residents of Brisbane already hold a cognitive map of this network; this proposal takes this map and turns it into a tangible proposition, with Central Station as its development focus. The site, by virtue of its geographical location and historical significance has the potential to unlock the city and free the CBD from its urban restraints. Pursued within a year-long project brief focused on transport-orientated development, supported by thorough research and interpretation, a series of masterplanning principles are established and a proposal developed for this site.

Aaron Massingham

Brisbane’s geography is defined by peninsulas caught between a broad, meandering subtropical river and branching ridgelines. The project focuses on the small nineteenth century Central Station that sits along the base of an inner city ridge, looking down a Beaux-Arts axis linking war memorials and ceremonial parks to the General Post Office and beyond to the Catholic Cathedral and the cliff-lined river. The urban importance of the site was almost obliterated under drear post-war administration buildings, a soul-free hotel, grim transit plazas though a refreshingly zesty carpark by the brutalist James Birrell.

Aaron’s bold scheme - ‘Beyond the Ridge’ – proposes a new direction for city growth and revitalises Central Station as the prime portal for local, interstate and international arrivals. The architectural detritus has been cleared to give primacy to the travellers’ first experience of the city whilst allowing the small historic terminus space and dignity. A sophisticated entry sequence is created to the station beneath a folded landscaped terrain that remakes the hillside as a navigable park. Historic views over the station are reinstated and diagonal views to significant historic structures are used to orient arrivals.

The final geometry was determined by rigorous macro to micro level analysis of city wide pedestrian movements to and from the station, astutely identified view lines and the profiles of surrounding built form. In a superbly clever response to a tough heritage dilemma, he has inserted a new theatre into the shell of Birrell’s carpark, maintaining spiralling concrete ramps as foyer spaces and empowering the structure with a civic function more commensurate with its location.

Aaron’s year long self-set project tackles an urban design project of a major scale, resulting in a design project mature beyond its years. The subject matter has been handled with great care and determination, which can clearly be appreciated through the narrative created in the final submission. What ultimately distinguishes it as a remarkable student project is not just its scope and seriousness, but the audacity and clarity of vision - a creative reimagining of a rapidly growing city and its almost forsaken railway station.

Mr Peter Skinner
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