08 Dec 22

Every station tells a story

Wynyard Sydney Studio team photo

Teamwork is at the heart of the collaborative design approach from global studio Woods Bagot and is central to its success in designing and delivering some of Australia’s best train stations.  

Key current projects for Woods Bagot include the transformation of Sydney’s Central Station with Laing O’Rourke for Sydney Metro, the lead design role on the five station Morley-Ellenbrook Line in Perth as part of the MELConnx Consortium, and design of the Sydney Metro Station at Crows Nest in northern Sydney.  

Woods Bagot is also working on Sydney Metro West and is the design and delivery architect for Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport Terminal. 

Woods Bagot regional transport leader John Prentice says working on such a wide variety of projects was an advantage, providing cross-learning opportunities from site to site. 

But he emphasised that Woods Bagot develops a unique narrative, based on deep research, for every project, providing a design framework and reference point for all involved.   

“Having a project narrative, making it specific to the actual project, is extremely important,” Prentice said. 

“It’s something the whole team can buy into, not just the architectural team, but the builders, the clients and the consultants.” 

Wynyard Walk interior and path

Wynyard Walk, an underground pedestrian thoroughfare between Wynyard Station and Barangaroo in Sydney.

Prentice said a good example is Wynyard Walk, an underground pedestrian thoroughfare between Wynyard Station and Barangaroo in Sydney. 

“The narrative on Wynyard Walk was ‘flow’ where we came together as a team to have a central idea about the project to the point where the contractors referred to the cladding as the ‘flow cladding’,” he said. 

“Just getting that real buy-in, giving people clear direction about what the intent of the design is means all decisions from concept to high-level detailing of the project have a clear direction based on that narrative.” 

Two stops away, the narrative at Central Station, Australia’s busiest rail hub, is the connection to heritage, the vaulted ceilings and, crucially, the textures, look and feel of sandstone, featured in so many of its early buildings, still onsite. 

The aim? “When you arrive at Central you know where you are.” 

“Finding the right narrative makes the design and construction process fun, it makes it enjoyable, makes it philosophical – depending on the level you wish to engage with that narrative – to the point where it’s tangible,” Prentice said. 

Central Station artwork on right track

Central Station mural artwork by Dr Bronwyn Bancroft.

Central Station brick artwork by Bronwyn Bancroft

At Crows Nest the narrative draws on the station itself – the arrival of rail infrastructure to the area – and aspects of the Federation housing prolific in the suburb, 8km north of the Sydney CBD. 

Tessellated tiling common to these houses – an example of which was the only heritage item found during excavation works – is incorporated into the design, while exposed brick work also features. 

Associate Principal Lucian Gormley said the architectural vision for the new Sydney Metro Crows Nest station was to deliver a simple, aesthetically pleasing piece of civic architecture which speaks to the identity of the local community whilst providing a framework for future urban renewal and growth. 

“Of course, narratives amount to nought unless the end design connects with customers,” he said. 

“Customers want intuitive environments, the way in which the architecture helps give clarity of movement and linking one destination to another,” Prentice said.  

“They want places that resonate with them, and that comes back to the idea of belonging and ownership – pride in their station, the journey that they go on each day.” 

Prentice said Woods Bagot now has almost 100 staff working in its transport team, which continues to grow with more projects in the pipeline. 

“We are very excited about the focus around Australia on developing new rail lines and stations and think it’s only the beginning of the next phase in the sector’s evolution,” he said.  

See our major transport projects in the Rail Express December 2022 issue.


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Martin Kelly
Content and Communications Leader (Australia & New Zealand)

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