Up to 15,000

people can have access to public space in Melbourne’s CBD and fresh air. 

38,000 ft squared

of coverage transformed into a cultural and arts precinct in heart of CBD. 

Iconic

public space enjoyed by over 100 million people and named one of the world’s top ten Public Squares. 

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The challenge

For over 80 years, urban planning experts had a vision to create an urban development that would conceal the eyesore of Melbourne’s CBD Jolimont railyards. The railway lines were a critical transport artery for the city, yet the air above the vast 38,000 square metres of railway tracks was not being utilised in any meaningful way for the people of Melbourne to enjoy.

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    As the structural and civil engineering partner on the project, Arcadis was tasked with designing an innovative over station development (OSD) which would reclaim air rights above the railway yard. Arcadis’ challenge was to transform the railyards into an iconic public space in the heart of Melbourne reflecting the very best of Melbourne’s constantly revolving cultural and entertainment program and flourishing food scene.

    The number of complex structural design considerations in the project required adopting innovative, world-first solutions. Some of the proposed solutions sat outside of relevant Australian standards and required rigorous prototype testing and validation prior the completion of design and construction. The design of the deck also needed to support iconic architecture and innovative structural designs. 

The solution

The development of the Jolimont railway yards was the most complex phase of the redevelopment process and expert engineering capabilities unique to Arcadis were used to create a deck platform capable of supporting overhead buildings, an Australian first.

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    The solution included the placement of 1.4km of concrete crash walls parallel to the rail lines ensuring a potential derailment would not compromise safety above and below the precinct. An unorthodox design solution was also needed to support the structure of the support deck as the crash walls did not wholly align to the vertical loads imposed by the planned buildings.

    Using steel beams and over 4,000 vibration-absorbing spring coils and rubber padding, Arcadis engineered a stabilised deck that would isolate vibration and noise from the railyards below. This process was vital to supporting the cultural purpose of Federation Square: the enjoyment of gallery and cinematic experiences, an exhibition space and television and radio studios that were among the foundation tenants.

The impact

The collection of buildings constructed above the station was the result of an architectural design competition attracting 177 entries from all over the world, with the winning design a complex and iconic vision for the space, characterised by irregular and geometric angles and facades. The most ambitious project Melbourne had ever undertaken, Arcadis’s experience ensured the platform above the railyards could sustain the complexity of the construction it needed to support.

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    The urban planning of the space has enabled Federation Square to accommodate up to 15,000 people at a time, participating in multiple events and activities, with an endless list of things to do and see at Federation Square. Today, the space remains the most popular and accessible place to gather in Melbourne’s city centre, and almost twenty years after completion, remains a well-planned public destination, providing a place for people to  comfortably relax in an open, fresh air environment observing Melbourne city’s surrounds hum with life.


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