Stuart Harrison

PROJECT SYNOPSIS 11th November 1998

Supervisor: Shane Murray




The site is Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, Narre Warren, in-between Princess Highway and the proposed extension to the South-Eastern Freeway. The complex is a diverse mix of specific (as opposed to generic) programs; including Eight Cinemas, a Public Library, a Post Office, Medical Centre, Child Care Centre, 24hr store, a Bar, amusement arcade, café and Public Swimming Facility - which includes an exterior Olympic Pool, indoor lap pool and an indoor leisure pool with water slide.

I have attempted to critique the shopping centre's possibility for hosting public space, to establish what can inform a civic environment. The overall intention was to create an environment that in many ways "flips" the condition of the modern shopping centre, - to establish a civic space in this condition. So, instead of an internal private restricted space I propose an external public accessible space of which the new public functions, the existing shopping centre and carpark are located around.

The urban proposition is a consolidation of facilities in the one complex: and at this level the project questions why public facilities in suburban locations have to be discrete like the housing around them.

The formal parti is that of an inversion of the relationship between solid and void, or volume and circulation, of the existing shopping centre. The resultant plan looks like the new building has been extracted from the existing building. The proposal then is present has an accompaniment to the existing, and each would feed of the other in terms of usage.

This proposition involves inserting into the inverted strip the program of the building and then this is manipulated. The form was derived by studying an optimum model of a mall, and when this was related to the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre it was discovered that the existing configuration was half the size of the optimum model.

A new building envelope "corridor" is obtained by reversing this relationship and extending it outwards at 450 from an expansion node in the existing centre. Doubling the 180m optimum mall length gave a new dimension of 360m. All subsequent manipulations on the form have this length. The width relationship is also doubled to give a width of 17m. This is enough for programs such as the cinemas and indoor lap pool to fit within.

The bending of the inverted strip is based on two concerns: the interior volumes of the cinemas and pool constrain the bending to a segmented approximation of a smooth line. The bending of the form also attempts at several levels to create exterior enclosures, figured as to prevent the new public space from becoming inaccessible.

The reference examples used in the project demonstrate a study into the use of the arch as civic gesture in seminal and local work. This informs a superimposition of arch systems at the level of the unfolded elevation - the bent strip is straighten into two elevations, which become treated differently architecturally. The first strip, in green and yellow tones, uses the superimposed arch systems as a flat pattern in which cladding colouration changes in plane. This wall reads as essentially solid and from it pieces are removed and windows are inset inside a 500mm reveal. This elevation encloses the majority of the cinema boxes.

The other elevation, in purple tones, develops the superimposed elevational treatment into a more modeled arcade treatment, through which most entries to the facilities occur. This process involves the setting back of some arch "pieces" and the elimination of others, to inform an arcade. Behind this system lies a glass wall which is the division between interior and exterior. This treatment attempts to set up an elevational solid/void tension similar to Frank Lloyd Wright's Marin County Civic Center. Here a glass wall is used behind an arching system, as is the case with the similar studies of Oscar Neimeyer in Brasilia and in Grounds' National Gallery and its economical approximation, the Northcote Bowl Building.

Walking from the existing mall, the pedestrian moves into the Link Gallery, which is an open space for temporary art display. This space connects to the Courtyard and the user is presented with the option of moving completely outside or negotiating the exterior edge through the arcade. Off the arcade are the ChildCare and Medical Centre.

The courtyard is open to the far end and becomes an undercroft, off which is the entrance to the Cinemas. A 711-type store is also located underneath here, in a prominent location which would act as a observation point and is also used for is ability to attract people. The east side of the undercroft is a porte-cochere for a bus-stop and taxi rank.

From the undercroft the main square begins, along side which is an arcade off which the Post Office and Library are entered. The entry to the Swimming Pool facility is on the east side of the square; on the other side of the road which passes through the building. The Pool can also be accessed form the arcade. To the south of the square is the new 450 bay carpark, for the users of the new and existing building.