The NSW government has appointed Woods Bagot and UK-based practice John McAslan and Partners to design the $955 million upgrade of Sydney’s Central Railway Station.
The redevelopment is part of the $20 billion Sydney Metro project and will include the construction of new underground platforms for the Metro railway line.
Central Station will be one of seven stations on the Sydney Metro City section. The other six stations will be designed by Foster and Partners and Architectus as part of a joint venture.
The upgrade to Central Station will also include a 19-metre-wide underground concourse – to be named Central Walk – which run between Chalmers Street on the eastern side of the station, midway between Devonshire and Elizabeth Streets, and the suburban railway platforms.
“Central Station is the gateway to our great city, and we are working to develop a station that blends heritage with innovative design on par with other grand stations around the world,” said NSW transport minister Andrew Constance.
In a statement, Woods Bagot and John McAslan and Partners said “Key heritage qualities of the 112-year-old station will be emphasised along with the introduction of new architecturally-inspiring elements as part of a scheme that amplifies Central Station as a Sydney icon.”
The design of the upgrade will have a clear relationship to the original architecture by colonial architect Walter Liberty Vernon. Constructed in 1855 to 1901, the station is one of the first major rail termini in Australia. According to its statement of heritage significance, it is the “only true terminus building in Australia preventing further extensions of rail lines and is significant as one of the largest covered public spaces in the city.
“[The terminus building] is a classically inspired Beaux Arts building consisting of a sandstone and brick structure organised in a “U” form that encloses a steel framed Main Hall and platforms. The interior of the hall features a skylight barrel vaulted steel truss roof, clad with corrugated iron. The internal brick walls are banded and the asymmetric arrangement of archways.”
Woods Bagot design leader Neil Hill said, “The main architectural direction [of the upgrade] is to respond to the main building with archways and vaults.”
“The craft and richness of stonework evident in the existing building are reinterpreted to form new textured sandstone walls into the new Metro Box, establishing the exceptionally crafted subterranean architecture firmly within the historic precinct and providing a civic quality to the new station works,” he said.
The Hawkesbury sandstone of the original terminus building will be reinterpreted in a contemporary manner in the form of precast modular panels. The proposed structure will also takes its cues from the original vaulted steel roof.
The design of the upgrade will “unlock the clarity of historic building,” said Woods Bagot principal John Prentice.
Construction on the station upgrade and the proposed Central Walk will begin immediately, after the government awarded the contract to Laing O’Rourke and it is expected to be completed by 2022. Services on the Sydney Metro City and Southwest lines are expect to commence in 2024.
John McAslan, executive chairman of John McAslan and Partners, said, “The world’s leading cities, Sydney among them, are under extraordinary pressure in terms of the development of transport infrastructure in relation to urban fabric. With 96 per cent of Sydney train services currently calling at Central Station, this interchange performs a critical function and impression of the city.”
John McAslan and Partners have completed a number of significant transport projects in London, Belfast, New Delhi including the multi-award-winning Kings Cross Station redevelopment which was completed in time for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Woods Bagot’s recently completed Wynard Walk in Sydney, which links Wynyard station with Barangaroo, received a commendation in the Public Architecture category at the 2017 NSW Architecture Awards.