Historic place spawns a
vibrant community

With a dramatic lighting scheme producing theatre-like effects, the Midland Railway Square in Midland, Western Australia, has been transformed from an industrial site into a unique and vibrant community.

Midland Railway Square is located within the heart of the historic Midland railway workshop precinct, adjoining the still active freight and passenger rail lines servicing the City of Swan and regions east of Perth. The redevelopment of the square is part of the wider precinct redevelopment by the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (MRA), and encompasses residential, commercial, recreational and other areas.

The site includes an Anzac memorial and open space with a ceremonial rail line, artworks, shade structures, custom seating, water misting and feature lighting surrounded by the historic workshop buildings and new development sites including a future hotel. The design collaboration of Place Laboratory (landscape architects) and ETC (lighting designers) has resulted in a dynamic urban space capable of myriad unique and variable night scenes to suit various modes and events within the space.

According to ETC Director, Mr Kurt McRae: “Having led many significant urban renewal and major public realm projects throughout metropolitan Perth, MRA set high expectations for Railway Square as one of the few remaining spaces to be completed as part of the overall transformation and repurposing of the historic Midland Railway Workshops precinct. The requirement for lighting to contribute to the activation and invigoration of the public square was a major driver, along with acknowledgement within the design of the historic references and future place-making vision for the space.”

The lighting system incorporates a Pharos Lighting control engine with smartphone app user interface, linear LED illuminated rail track with water misting, an array of outdoor gobo projectors with themed gobo images and Dali dimmable general area lighting. The railway square siding incorporates alfresco dining and seating among the mature tree transplants, with a lighting system integrated within the trees. A custom pole design that is themed around the surrounding engineering rail workshops integrates the general area lighting, gobo projectors and events power while also supporting the grapevines that are historic to the Swan valley region.

“We were able to achieve a balance of both the active and passive outcomes in order to deliver the place-making vision for a diverse and flexible public space,” Mr McRae noted. The ETC team achieved this through luminaire selections, programmed lighting scene changes, bespoke and feature lighting design elements such as gobo light projections, dynamic illumination of the custom-designed railway track and water-misting effect, integrated landscape and tree downlighting elements.

The WE-EF RMC320 and VFL530-SE luminaires were selected to provide the majority of general area lighting throughout the square. They were selected for their performance, value for money, contemporary aesthetic design and integration, especially with the bespoke pole design. These fittings also facilitated the project’s prerequisite for dimming and programmed scene adjustments by utilising their Dali control interface.

The bespoke pole design was initiated by ETC, in response to the physical challenges to accommodating and supporting all the equipment, while also embracing the project’s specific aesthetic design influences necessary to achieving a unique and integrated outcome. The poles needed to accommodate the physically large gobo projectors, area lighting, events power outlets within locked cubicles as well as support the growth of ornamental vines between the pole base sections and the future provisioning for mounting CCTV, Wi-Fi and other smart city technologies. The pole design was fully engineered by ETC and manufactured by Altiform, a Perth company that specialises in the manufacture of landscape and bespoke furniture.

“For adjustment of the scheduling and individual scene selections, the lighting control system incorporates a Dynalite and Genysys digital fully-programmable network with 365-day scheduling, onsite touch screen and wireless remote access via a secure gateway for smartphones and PCs,” Mr. McRae explained. “The major benefit, particularly of the wireless access, is ease of accessibility for the client whether on or offsite.” This allows the user to make quick scene changes, check the current system status, modify the pre-programmed scheduler for special events while also facilitating the more cost-effective option of offsite access to technical support.

Although much of the surrounding commercial and residential development sites have yet to be completed, the square is already well-utilised by the community as well as for major events such as Anzac Day commemorative services. “The project has received very positive feedback since completion, and is generating considerable interest and ‘likes’ via social media sites such as YouTube,” Mr McRae said.

Photography: Jackie Chan


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