Tuesday, 7 April 2009

the GAWD of the YARRA

"GAWD".. something perhaps only marc and me will ever understand... but just so u r confused, i mean GAWD as in GOD.. this is our lil joke between ourselves about marc's theories tutor who is a taiwanese who cant speak proper in-glisss... he pronounces jean utzon like astho the name originated somewher from mainland china...

so ANYWAY... this is really just a ferry terminal whose design brief has been exploited by us to depths we are so proud we reached in just ONE WEEK... or so at least to me i feel it is an achievement..

the location was at the banks of the Yarra river next to the Federation Square. the brief called for two terminals, one to service the north bank and one for the south bank. the purpose is to act as ferry terminals to service the river traffic of the ferries and also to help promote tourism in the Yarra.

neighbouring sites include famous and glorious sites such as the princess bridge, the princess wharfs (now known as the federation wharfs), flinders street train station, victorian art centre and thats all. from our observation the site was a very busy location. princess bridge serves as a interlink between Swanston Street and St Kilda Street of which both are artery roads of Melbourne CBD. Flinders Street Station serves as a interchange of trains and the tramlines runs along the Swanston and St Kilda Street. The Victorian Art Centre houses various cultural and arts events. i cant say less bout federation square. i mean it is after all FEDERATION SQUARE... huge huge icons in the area. in the words of a chinese simile - "people mountain people sea" , meaning heaps of pedestrian traffic in the area.

in contrast to this loud backdrop, we found the existence of a quiet counterpart that co-exist just right beneath all these hustle and bustle. below eye levels, locations such as the princess wharfs and the under the princess bridge possesses a genious loci that is so serene and quiet. and iconic in its own way.

this is the very quality we seek to preserve and celebrate

the solution proposed was a simple amalgamation of the two terminals into one.

inspiration started with this single picture that Marc randomly took. it inspired us to explore how far obscurity, invisibility and transparency in architecture can be stretched and how much can time and space be captured in a form that seeks to be iconic is a silent manner.

form wise, it is essentially a cube of one sided mirrored glass held up by steel frames. the whole structure rest on a deck which is in turn supported by buoys. the terminal is floating and anchored down to the riverbed on all four sides.

the experience of the building starts from the exterior, the moment before you notice the building, from the level of the bridge looking down towards the river, meaning below your eye level. the reflective nature of the facade taunts our eyes playfully, obscuring the boundaries between the river surface and the actual terminal. it is this very silent and invisible nature that will draw people and generate interest.

once at normal eye level, which is normally viewed from the docking platforms of the wharfs, the building facade now displays a different emotion. it starts to reflect the surroundings onto itself. it recreates vantage points that cannot be seen from your position because of the reflection. so it not only disolves visually into the water, it disolves into the surroundings as well.

now, passengers get on to the terminal thru a retractable entrance that unfolds from the deck, latching onto any nearby docking platform. once on the deck, passengers can opt to board the boat, purchase tickets at the reception counter or reside upstairs in the glass cude whilst watiign for their transport. the studs on each side of the deck demarcade the docking positions of the boats and also acting as ticket validating counters.

once on the upper floor, the program is limitless. the open floor plan allows for the space to be partitioned for various functions. during operation, this space creates a very interesting paranomic vantage point when standing inside the cube. the interesting thing is because its one sided mirrored, outsiders cant see you. but on the contrary, in reality what you can see from the inside is exactly what a person sees from the outside when the outsider looks at the reflection on the facade. it is this paradoxical contrasting element that creates this disillusionment of space and locality that intrigues the development of this idea.

as a landmark and an icon, we strong believe that it will succeed because of its flexiblity. because of its mobility this proposal can be placed any where along the Yarra. it can moved up and down for promotions or just as a tourist attraction. the whole terminal can be booked for the night when it is not in operation for private functions. imagine having your engagament party in the middle of the river, only people cant see u..=)

something to note:
not that i am against taylor's and all that they teach. i believe i have learned alot. however, there are certain things in my opinion that taylor's lack.
i can dare say 80% of us design thru sketch up.. which really takes away the true essence of design. sketchup should only be an assistant tool... not the main design tool.. all the top students of my batch design from mind to hand.. skecth up always came later. looks into works of carey, jun hao or euric.. they may be from the diploma program, but trust me u can learn alot from them. =)

in this project, we played with tectonics of form and materiality, something i know many of us have not tried before. the focus wasnt on form making but rather what the form will do and how does the materiality affect the form...

but anyway you can almost see this as a development model after all its only a one week project


important note:

GUYS PLEASE LEARN HOW TO DO PROPER AND REAL REFERENCING BEFORE YOU COME OVERSEAS.... its a real deal over here... and they have machines that can scan your text and it is linked to a database that can detect if you are plaguirisng from ANY TEXT.. it is that good..

just something i took for granted back home and i see the need now...


come guys give it a crit.. i know u want to..=D


KS said...

i've to say square plan won't achieve that 'ppl seeing their own reflections', it has to be looking at the surfaces at right angle. Circular plan would achieve a lot more constant effect if that's what u wanted.
Love that kinda concept personally, would say it's at once both universal & contextual, but a bit doubtful on using it for a program as such...
Disappearing a ferry terminal and then? boats crashing into it?

ian ng said...


For a 1 week project u shud be commended for the youthful zest this proposal beams with. The physical model i find particularly seductive, esp the way the corners and edges gleam like mercury. And I do like the courage u display at challenging traditional outlooks.

The issues I think u'd probably have to tackle if this concept were to be developed would be:

The call for 2 terminals must have pressing grounds. The writer of the brief (client?) must have seen the need for ppl to alight and board from BOTH banks. Your argument from ferry sizes and frequencies (and the size of a ferry as evidenced from your pics) seem to work against you decision for a combined terminal. Iconic landmark at the expense of user convenience?

This can of course be easily solved with the inclusion of some sexy pedestrian bridge across the Yarra. But, then again, that's not quite possible with ur concept. Cos you've conceived of this object as a pontoon, rather than a terminal. (So, not so easy, la..) It's an intermediate ferry rather than a terminal. Like, in places (Kuala Terengganu, Besut, etc.) when there aren't enuf lengths of wharfs you just dock next to the nearest boat and disembark by walking, sang kancil like, across the other boats. That's the experience u'v designed. (Not altogether unpleasant.)

Why a square plan when it is so difficult to manoeuvre around it? (Would be interesting to ask a ferryman what he thought of it.) At a guess, "because it's iconic".

At what price? Reduced manoeurability, static internal spatiality, bulkiness in scale in relation to the river, 'non-directionality', etc.

Tho it makes a nice nite picture.

But that nite picture is deceptive. At nite, unless ur upper floor is unused and unlit, we on the outside actually see thru into ur interior which is relatively brighter than the outside. And the nightmare occurs inside. Bld users see only the reflection of themselves (unless lights are dimmed real low...romantic i guess).

In the daytime, this bld (as a piece of landscape art) wins hands down. Yes you do get all those serene and sexy reflections u talk about. Nice.

But one of the most basic and "traditional" design issues this proposal ignores is site response (in the traditional sense.) It makes no reference to Fed Square, ignores and turns its back to it. "Promote Tourism"? Really? Worse, it wants to sometimes sail away. Er....what happens then to ppl who want to get off the ferry here?

You said that u guys r exploring "what the form will do". Other than create a sexy image (with sketchup)...er...what else?

But Yo Man...not a project to be embarrased about, not at all.

Neat posting, Richard & Marc. Let's see more. And let's hear from others...

BADesign said...

richard, i'm curious to know what issues that your tutors pointed out or commented about which you didnt think of or realize while designing this..