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108 Flinders Street Features In World Landscape Architecture_____

108 Flinders Street Features In World Landscape Architecture

On an intimate internal podium site in inner city Melbourne, the co-existing needs for an engaging space that delights the building’s residents, whilst providing much sought - after privacy and green relief, have come together to create a fantasy courtyard landscape that is both surprising and engaging.

Pendent trees create suspense as they appear to hover in their cascade towards the bottom of the tall light court. A soaring six-storey artificial green wall is anchored by three glass bottomed pools on the podium floor, which allow an ethereal light into the access way below.

The concept for this totally synthetic landscape arose as whimsical response to a set of restrictive functional issues. The twelve storey apartment building at 108 Flinders Street, Melbourne, designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects, allows for a slender centralized first-floor courtyard, eighteen metres long by only eight metres wide, with a towering vertical elevation stretching eleven storeys up. While this space provides the residents of the surrounding apartments with an outlook and natural light, the proportions bring with it a curtailed sense of privacy, and limited access for the maintenance of a living landscape.

Seven suspended artificial trees were conceived as an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ response to the need for a visual buffer between the apartments which frame the courtyard. Each tree’s position is carefully considered to provide interest for the residents on each floor.

The soaring sense of verticality has been used to enhance the overall experience of the space, with a lofty artificial green wall stretching to seven storeys above the courtyard on the western party wall. This impression is extended through to the ground floor with the use of a glass bottom to the central water features, tying the first two levels together so that on entering the building at street level one immediately gets a sense of the space above.
The green wall was fabricated in Melbourne, with a series of approximately 3 x 1.5m panels being integrated to compose the wall’s eighteen metre height and seven metre width. Individual plants were attentively hand glued into the backing foam of each panel, with concerted attention paid to the “flow” of plant foliage. The panels were then numbered and each panel was assembled on site in their ultimate sequence prior to installation, to ensure that the flow of foliage from one panel to the other was both consistent and visually cohesive.

Beneath this verdant vertical garden, a water wall cascades into two ponds at courtyard level. These glass bottomed pools provide natural light to the drop off foyer of the residential lobby below. To allow for the passage of light through these basins, the balance tanks could not be located in the typical location underneath the slab. As the compact detailing of the surrounding building equally allows no storage room outside of the courtyard, the tanks were required to be cleverly concealed within the design. Their location adjacent the ponds, set between the slab and paving, creates a raised profile around each pool and adds horizontal variation and interest. The pool’s weighty glass bases required detailed engineering to construct and install.

Finally, the overall setting is complemented by an eighteen metre long graphic wall, designed by Emery Studio, which provides a fantasy landscape representation, full of colour and movement.

Working with the supportive architect, Karl Fender, the project team were able to see the initial project concept realised in its entirety despite the cost surpassing initial feasibility studies. With the client, Mr Lee, himself having an architectural background, there was strong endorsement to pursue several ‘off-the-wall’ ideas to best address the site’s functional constraints.

This imaginative landscape has successfully responded to a challenging site, providing both a whimsical, absorbing outlook for the residents, as well as an essential sense of privacy and low maintenance solution needed.
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