British architect John McAslan has discussed Sydney’s upcoming Central Station upgrade at a C+A Talk in Sydney this week.

John McAslan + Partners (JMP) and Woods Bagot will work together to deliver the upgrade, which will allow greater volumes of people to move through the station, while also emphasising its key heritage qualities and introducing architecturally inspiring elements that will act to amplify Central Station as a Sydney icon. 

“There are all sorts of issues … It’s incredibly complicated,” says McAslan.

“It’s a classic case of a difficult project. How do you protect this wonderful station and give it new life, while incorporating hundreds of thousands of new passenger movements and making it work better?”

“One of the things we’re working around is [making sure] everything has absolute purpose and that it doesn’t just come from an engineering perspective,” adds Domenic Alvaro, director of Woods Bagot. 

“It’s interesting to see some of the work shift between pure engineering discipline to legacy, heritage and adaption. So the strategy is between both of those modes.”

“The most challenging element is handling this axial shift in a way that creates a new space for the station [while] celebrating the historic architecture which is hidden at present,” says McAslan.

“There’s no doubt it’s going to become very difficult. Not so much architecturally, but the construction, keeping operations going and minimising disruption.” 

In terms of celebrating and protecting Central’s heritage elements, McAslan likened it to the work he did on Kings Cross Station in London, which involved designing a new Western Concourse to act as a new, iconic architectural gateway to the city. Arguably the most recognisable feature of the concourse is the geometric semi-circular roof which was designed to celebrate and showcase the heritage buildings while also protecting them. 

kingscross.jpgWestern Concourse at King's Cross Station in London. Image: Wikimedia Commons

McAslan hopes to achieve something similar in his work on Central Station.