Designed to connect the shopping center, 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. 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 center 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. The design itself is highly sustainable, open at the sides to provide cross-ventilation and eliminate the need for air conditioning.
Simon Lincoln, Studio Lead Australia said: “The Link is a great example of how retailers and landowners are thinking differently to adapt to changing consumer behavior, incorporating new uses into their centers, 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.”
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. In addition, artificial lighting is minimal, primarily used to illuminate the structure at night.