We Need a New Mentality When Building Metro Stations: Opinion


By Anthony Venturini

There’s been plenty of talk about Sydney Metro and its 66 kilometres of metro track, hi-tech trains and expected boost for jobs and growth, but very little about the 31 new stations that will anchor it all.

That’s about to change. If metros are set to disrupt our cities -- Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth all have lines on the books too -- then the spaces above them are also being radically re-imagined beyond what much of the community is expecting.

While train stations in the past may have had little more than an adjacent car park or bus stop, metro stations in the CBD and ring suburbs are now being designed as unified precincts delivering a dynamic mix of commercial, residential, retail, pedestrian and public space.

Stations accessed from brand new multi-use developments are not only boosting urban densities as cities become the driving force for financial, demographic and cultural change, but are also spurring new ways to deliver urban infrastructure in the process.

A huge change is occurring now in how we plan and pay for them. Instead of going it alone, governments are collaborating with the private sector from the start to optimise investment opportunities to further boost economic and urban growth.

Sydney’s planned station at Martin Place is a great example. Macquarie Group’s proposal would combine the new metro, existing Martin Place station and Macquarie’s own historic headquarters in to a seamless transport, pedestrian and retail concourse below ground, topped by iconic buildings and reinvigorated commercial, retail, public and dining spaces above.

The key to all this innovative thinking in new urban mobility is integration. When governments and the private sector plan transport and urban development opportunities as a unified project with embedded public/private partnerships the chances of delivering a world class experience for passengers and the city are vastly expanded.

Given the intense competition for space, soaring real estate prices and far more people, over-station developments-or ‘metro precinct activation’ as its also known are here to stay.

But they don’t come without their challenges.

Building metro stations, complex thoroughfares and new buildings simultaneously in crowded places like cities where heritage, traffic and public interests often collide requires meticulous, efficient and detailed planning and design. This is a scenario the Macquarie Martin Place development will have to navigate successfully of course.

Building major metros is a something of a new challenge for Australia, but we have a powerful new development model to make sure we get it right. Not only are our communities expecting we will, the future health of our inner cities depends on it.


Anthony Venturini is the Australia Pacific Managing Director of Buildings and Urban Development for Arcadis. Anthony has over 20 years’ experience in the building and property development industry both in Australia and Internationally, with specific areas of expertise including feasibility, design, testing and commissioning of electrical systems in buildings, high and low voltage distribution networks, and power generation.

The Urban Developer will occasionally publish opinion pieces written by outside contributors representing a wide range of viewpoints. 

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