In the last two
decades, Melbourne city has been extending its footprint to its adjacent lands-
Southbank, South Wharf, Port Melbourne and Docklands in its urban renewal
project, broadening the areas of Central Business District and the residential
areas. Though they do accommodate for the growing population and the resulting
demand for space, there remain feelings of isolation between these areas and
the original CBD- the connectivity is slight and the liveliness of the original
city lacking in the newer districts on its periphery. They can neither
collectively be read as one big city, nor do they feature distinctive
attractiveness to be recognised as individual city centres.
How then, can Melbourne city extend?
Folding City project proposes an idea to
extend the city upward.
treats the entire city square as a skyscraper, creating a second city directly
on top of the existing one. In this skyscraper, the existing city acts as the
ground floor and the new city, its basis derived from the original, can be
thought of as the second floor, forming such areas as Level 2 Flinders Street
on top of Level 1 Flinders Street. The new city above accommodate spaces of similar
or related programs to that existing in the same area on the ground floor,
connected via vertical transport system- for example, existing general areas of
entertainment will expand and connect to additional entertainment venues above,
and existing corporate areas will have direct access to more businesses
operating above. Furthermore, numerous hidden laneways and alleyways known as Melbourne
attraction inspire the formation of additional maze-like folds, much like
mezzanines in a building. In this way, the existing city CBD directly
influences its own expansion, creating a second city which is very much a part
On the upper
levels though, these ‘streets’ and ‘laneways’ are not two dimensional walkways,
but three dimensional tubular spaces both for occupation and travel. People
live and work inside these tubes, as well as walk in it. Travel is also no
longer two dimensional, with travelators operating in the X and Y axes and
elevators on the Z axis.
The new part of
the city above also distinguishes itself from the existing city through its
material quality. The tubular ‘streets’ of the city above is made using transparent and
frosted toughened glass, with transparent solar panel films such as those being
produced and developed by Sumitomo 3M, introduced at CEATEC Japan 2011. The
structure not only allows natural light to permeate through to the ground
level, but also contribute to renewable energy production on a city scale. Modes of transport above include elevators
and travelators to be run on energy produced through this method, designed to
reduce carbon dioxide emission.
city, seemingly floating above in its transparent lightness, explores the
opportunities that exist in skyscrapers. Folding the whole city upward exposes
much broader surface area for the two cities to interact with, in comparison to
the traditional horizontal growth where interaction is limited to its
peripheral perimeter. This allows for the city to extend as a unified whole, avoiding
isolated situations. Also as a distinctive entity that utilise forefront
technology to address environmental issues faced, Folding City project presents
an alternative method of urban renewal with a long term perspective.