Olympic Park Station
Client Olympic Coordination Authority / Leighton Contractors
Transport and Infrastructure
Scale 7,000 sqm
Location Sydney, Australia
Photography Patrick Bingham-Hall / Max Creasy
Exploring the challenge
Gateway to the Olympic site, the Olympic Park Station handled an estimated 80 percent of the 1.2 million people attending the 2000 Olympic Games. The brief for the station called for the creation of a world-class venue that could comfortably accommodate up to 50,000 patrons safely, efficiently and comfortably during times of peak movement.
The Olympic Coordination Authority's (OCA) public access policy had a strong impact on the design, as did the extensive environmental agenda adopted for the Games. Its architectural expression needed to be compatible with the surrounding precinct and provide a seamless integration with the public domain.
Consideration was also given to the subsequent uses of the site, when the site would revert to a modest through-put station between major events.
An individual approach
The 7,000 square metre station is a celebration of rail travel, designed in the tradition of the great glass and iron railway stations of the nineteenth century. Yet the response is distinctly Australian in character, embracing qualities of openness, directness and clarity. The design is responsive to climate, whereby the canopy, like a veranda, provides protection from rain and sun, and access to natural light and breezes.
The design deliberately eschews ornament. Its poetry, visual interest and richness comes from the expression of a carefully ordered structure and the crafted detailing of materials and junctions.
An innovative response
The elegantly vaulted roof provides the building with a dramatic visual presence. The generous spatial volumes enhance the sense of arrival, proving an immediate, clear and legible connection with the external environment. The monolithic base is carved into the ground to embed the platforms and retaining walls, while a lightweight, folded steel roof, free of services, floats above. By half emerging the station, HASSELL effectively 'lifted the lid' off the typical underground station box. While the base is firmly embedded in the earth, the canopy element hovers above. An ingenious steel vaulted concertina structure delivers an exceptionally thin and light roof, minimising the use of materials.
Designed to be different
The station design has a clear and direct expression of structure and function. The linear qualities of the form set it apart from the surrounding sporting venues.
In major event mode, the station operates seamlessly to handle up to 1,600 people every two minutes. A simple, logical and highly innovative arrangement of platforms and vertical movement systems, tested and refined through computer passenger flow modelling, ensures the easy transition of patrons to and from the station.
The station is largely indirectly lit by bouncing light from the natural reflectors formed by the roof. This has the effect of increasing the perceived light levels in the station and reducing the need for artificial light.
The spectacular roof is a defining feature of the building. Its curved leaf-like form was inspired by native gum trees, which feature prominently in the surrounding landscape. After dark, the underside of the canopy is illuminated to signify the station entry and highlight the sense of occasion and theatricality created by the building at night.
While public transport is inherently sustainable, for the facilities serving the 2000 Olympic Games, the OCA developed one of Australia's first guidelines for building and public domain environmental performance. Sustainable design was a key priority in the detailed planning of the station. Passive initiatives include increased reliance on natural light and natural ventilation, while the surrounding landscaping plants have been chosen for their low water qualities. Permeable paving has been installed throughout the ground plane and water harvesting is incorporated for irrigation and other on-site water uses. Where practicable, low energy fittings and recycled building materials have been selected.
Total equity access was also demanded by the OCA, and was achieved through all areas within and around the station. To assist the hearing impaired, speech induction loops have also been installed.
1999 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory) Awards – Design Merit – Urban and Civic Design
1999 Australian Institute of Steel Construction (New South Wales) Awards – Architectural Steel Design Award - awarded to Tierney and Partners, Leighton Contractors, Alfasi Constructions
1998 Royal Australian Institute of Architects National Awards – Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings
1998 Royal Australian Institute of Architects National Awards – Access Citation
1998 Royal Australian Institute of Architects (New South Wales) Awards – Sulman Award for Public Buildings
1998 Royal Australian Institute of Architects (New South Wales) Awards – BHP Colorbond Award for the Innovative Use of Steel in Architecture
1998 Metal Building Awards – Award of Excellence
1998 Metal Building Awards – Award – Civil Engineering
Architectural Survey, Architectural Review Australia, no. 100, 2007, p. 107
Olympiadach, Deutsche Bauzeitschrift (Germany), no. 4, April 1999, pp. 85-88
Olympic Park Station, Creative Solutions for Australian architects, BT Latitude, West Ryde, NSW, 2002, pp. 94-103
Olympic Vault by Penny McGuire, Architectural Review (United Kingdom), no. 1219, September 1998, pp. 64-66
Sports Training by Tony Caro, Architecture Australia, May/June 1998, pp. 56-61
Station Master by Peter Hyatt, Steel Profile (Australia), no. 63, March 1998, pp. 10-17
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