Arranged as an abstracted assemblage of freight carriages sited alongside the Flinders Street Station platforms, Arbory is a hybrid public/private space where pedestrians and patrons alike, ebb and flow or pause to enjoy each other’s company along the riverside. The brief was to convert a disused rail line into a publicly accessible contemporary restaurant and bar venue that would not only sit comfortably within the surrounding heritage context but also contribute positively to the local residents and the tourist experience of Melbourne.
The design of a series of white polycarbonate box buildings allowed the kitchens, bars and back of house areas to be contained within a minimalist ‘singular’ architectural form, which responds in an abstract manner to the linear nature of the rail lines, platforms and the river. A central passage extends from the east entry to the west allowing for direct and efficient movement through the interior of the project. Refined timber lined bars at each end of Arbory create a sense of comfort and enclosure while the gently rising and meandering entry path at the eastern end of the venue maintains a connection with the landscape with a sense of journey and delight from Flinders Walk.
Seating is strategically located in between the existing Plane trees that abut the river frontage and in the adjacencies to the passage. The design response is a contemporary yet sensitive development sited in between the Yarra River and Flinders Street Railway Station on a sliver of land, now known as North Bank.
On-site navigation of the existing railway infrastructure, mature vegetation and site accessibility provided many challenges throughout the project and the adoption of a pre-fabricated ‘kit of parts’ construction methodology ensured cost and on-site construction efficiencies were maximised.
Raised above the ground for prospect and view, patrons sit among a canopy of mature Plane trees. At night the white polycarbonate buildings are illuminated, providing a glowing backdrop from which patrons can enjoy, and also contribute to, the dynamic amenity of the Yarra River and its surrounds.