Text description provided by the architects. Blending placemaking, infrastructure and innovation, Make Architects has completed a new project for Vicinity Centres at Chadstone shopping centre in Melbourne.

Designed to connect the shopping centre, which is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, with the newly opened Hotel Chadstone Melbourne, MGallery by Sofitel, The Link is a tranquil walkway that replaces part of a multi-level car park and creates a more accessible, engaging entrance to Chadstone – the Fashion Capital. Make Architects were the Design Architects responsible for the project, whilst Cera Stribley were engaged as Delivery Architects.

Make Architects’ design team fostered close collaboration to bring crafted, specialist materials from Europe and used Australian experts and engineers to create the route that spans 110m, stretches up to 15m high and blurs the boundary between different leisure, commercial and retail uses at the centre and also between an internal and external environment.

Inspired by the arched glass roof that is iconic to Chadstone, The Link is formed from a curved ‘glulam’ timber structure with a tensile, semi-translucent ‘PTFE’ fabric stretched over to protect customers, guests and visitors from the weather, yet still connect people to the environment.

The simplicity of its materials, belies the complexity of the Italian Larch timber diagrid structure which essentially acts as a harmonica – each element holding the other in position, albeit supported by hidden steel foundations. All other features within the space are below eye level in order to celebrate the scale and beauty of the architecture. Landscaping, stairs and travellators have been carefully positioned to create areas to dwell and relax as well as space for a new restaurant to spill out and flexible areas for events and pop-up uses.

The choice of planting ties in with the wider strategy for Chadstone to use native species. This is supported with evergreen climbing plants such as climbing Boston Ivy and scented Jasmine to provide a broader sensory experience.

The design itself is highly sustainable, open at the sides to provide cross-ventilation and eliminate the need for air conditioning. Artificial lighting is minimal, primarily used to illuminate the structure at nighttime.

Jacob Alsop, partner at Make Architects said: “The Link is a great example of how retailers and landowners are thinking differently to adapt to changing consumer behaviour, incorporating new uses into their centres, but also creating flexible spaces like this, spaces that don’t necessarily drive revenue but that tap into what patrons are looking for in terms of places that promote wellbeing and that provide a more relaxed, natural environment.”

Fiona Mackenzie, Chadstone Director said: “We’re very proud of what we’re creating as Chadstone evolves to become a world-class, integrated destination for retail, dining, entertainment, tourism, business and now luxury accommodation. 

The Link has enhanced the amenity for the more than 24 million people who move between our Tower One offices, Hotel Chadstone and the retail precinct every year.”

Jacob Alsop, partner at Make Architects said: “The Link is easily and highly adaptable, it has been designed for effortless maintenance and to stand the test of time, to integrate different uses and to itself be used for different things now and in the future.

It was delivered in an extremely tight timescale and we are delighted with how it combined European craftsmanship with Australian expertise to deliver a space that works perfectly for this location.”