Approach to rail sector design is changing and we believe that’s a good thing. Our own experience, at Genton, is to treat design with a genuinely holistic view and, when it comes to work on our own rail sector projects at both Reservoir and Frankston, we set out to design more than just infrastructure – we understood the importance of designing spaces that would connect community. The two rail projects are very different in many ways but both benefited from urban design that enabled the public space to be relevant to the public utilising it. In Frankston, the need to rebuild and transform the existing station gave us freedom to be creative and design something memorable, while in Reservoir, the transition to the sky rail meant a new look that would be accepted and appreciated by everyone who engaged with it.
In Reservoir, that design approach meant working on a way to unite two disparate high street shopping strips that each had very distinct characters. The retailers from both precincts had previously been very disconnected and now, although they are still separated by busy roads, our design offered a way to unite the shopping strips in a way that would give people passing through the Reservoir train station the feeling that, no matter which retail strip they visited, they were shopping within the same suburb. The station has now become more of an urban square and, for both residents and visitors alike, this strengthens a feeling of community cohesion that was not previously experienced.
With Frankston train station, being in a coastal location, our focus was less about providing a link for retailers and more about creating form and materiality that reinforced this busy transport hub’s connection with the surrounding environment. A definite fluidity in the design touches symbolises the link to the water close by and there is a gentleness in this that softens the feeling of the station and makes it feel friendlier, more accessible and more welcoming. In both cases, although understanding the necessary regulations around public transport delivery was a critical component, the emphasis on the creation of community-building public space was a key driver for us – and we’re proud to see the needs of a diverse range of stakeholders met.
“Because of the work we have done on rail projects, we now approach the way we design residential buildings differently too – it has informed everything we do in the future, really, We now have a much broader view to the elements of successful design.” says Marc Debney, Genton co-director. “We don’t see any building design in isolation. There are always multiple users involved and addressing the different interests of everyone is always important.”