The Yardmaster’s Building Melbourne, Southern Cross Rail Yard, Victoria Architecture

The Yardmaster’s Building in Melbourne

Southern Cross Rail Yard Development, Australia design by McBride Charles Ryan

28 Jun 2013

The Yardmaster’s Building

Design: McBride Charles Ryan Architects

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The Yardmaster’s Building
photo : John Gollings

The Yardmaster’s Building News

Brief + Design

Within the gritty rail yard environment, squeezed between a space formed by the divergence of V-Line tracks at the end of platforms 5 and 6, the Yardmasters Building is a multi-use facility for the various workers and operations associated with the Southern Cross Rail Yard. A service building that in years passed may have been treated in a pragmatic and unremarkable way.

Although inaccessible to the public, the extreme exposure of the building renders it highly visible from a number of vantages. Its inaccessibility, the no-mans land of the rail yard environment, became an opportunity: what was proposed was a jewellery box of exquisite proportions, its mystery amplified by its contrast to the grit that surrounds it. In providing delight to the rail experience, it says that public infrastructure matters and, by extension, that the public matter. The delicate polished patterning belies a robust and sophisticated façade that drastically minimizes energy consumption and takes sustainability seriously without the clip-ons.

The complexity and cost of constructing within a rail environment is significant. The strategy was to minimize on site construction, rail disruption and therefore cost. This involved providing as much architectural value off-site as possible. A double skin pre-caste concrete system was used. Within the outer ‘biscuit face’ a pattern was caste, the relief polished. The panel system required multiple processes not attempted before. They provided enormous value in terms of the buildings aesthetic and thermal performance. Exposed internal mass, insulated from the outside environment is supplemented by a chilled beam A/C system. Windows are sealed from free airborne particles and the fumes of the rail environment.

The Yardmaster’s Building Melbourne The Yardmaster’s Building Melbourne The Yardmaster’s Building
photos : John Gollings

The project required consultation with representatives of the diverse users, their respective union representatives, management and relevant and associated authorities. The complexity of the stakeholder group and their multiple interests required a strategy of developing a simple flexible shell. The progress of the building, its public interface would then not be held hostage to the inevitable machinations of a complex stakeholders mix.

The internal layouts are simple and partitioned. Inevitable this will change as it did many times throughout the design process. Internally the building is robust and matter of fact, measured without appearing frugal. For us each room was to have at least one beautiful and exotic window.

The building was carefully cost managed. Panel sizes geared towards optimizing production and minimizing energy. Materials were chosen for their robustness – maintenance in this environment comes at too high a price. The patina was to match the rusted charcoal of its environment, as if it had always been there or simply emerged from the ground. This building is moody, and with the Melbourne weather it changes rapidly. So no matter how bad the day was, the last minute burst of late afternoon sun reminds us that it was truly worth it.

The Yardmaster’s Building The Yardmaster’s Building The Yardmaster’s Building
photos : John Gollings

The Yardmaster’s Building Melbourne – Information

Project Name: The Yardmaster’s Building
Project team: Rob McBride, Debbie Ryan, Drew Williamson, Andrew Hayne, Fang Cheah, Michelle James, Scott Crowe, Johanna Brunner, Angela Woda, David Fraser
Size: 1,350 sqm


Precast concrete Panels – Thermomass insulated concrete panel with biscut external face with polished relief
Precast concrete Panels –Trowel Finish to Interior of Perimeter Wall
13mm Flush Powerscape Distinction Lining
Premium Floors 6mm Cork Shee

Paint Internal:
[Dulux]: Vivid White, Parma Violet, Wolf’s Bane, Monk, Marais, Tin Cat, Leadman
[Metallic Effect]: Exquisite Elara

100% Wool Loop Pile Carpet on Underlay – Tuftmaster Luminary ‘Aubergine’
Forbo Safestep Grip nr 8399 (Black)
Signorino 300mm X 600mm Polished Tile, Pure Black and White
Trowelled Concrete with Parchem Durafloor SL. Colour Woolworths Grey Finish

Joinery: Laminex Laboratory Compact Laminate 16mm – Black, Electro Silver, Electro Graphite

The Yardmaster’s Building Melbourne images / information received from McBride Charles Ryan Architects

McBride Charles Ryan

Location:Southern Cross Rail Yard, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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