Subicon Valley

This design proposal was conceptualised by JCY Architects and Urban Designers for the Project Perth initiative conducted by Channel 9 Perth. 

Subiaco Oval and football is synonymous with Subiaco and the relocation of the new AFL stadium to the Burswood peninsula is going to have a significant impact on the prosperity and the amenity of this area. The lack of the weekly influx of patrons will have an adverse affect on the suburb, so JCY decided to re-imagine what Subiaco could be with a more permanent population to boost productivity whilst retaining the significant cultural importance of the traditional home of Western Australian football and as a landmark identifier for the suburb of Subiaco.

In exploring the future of Subiaco it was pertinent to investigate what Subiaco needed to maintain this current vibrancy and in the broader context about what Perth needed and there were a number of factors that shaped this design response.

There is currently a growing inner city population compounded by a lack of public education facilities for the inner city and surrounding western suburbs. The east coast cities currently operate as Australia’s business centres, yet our biggest trading partners are in Asia. Perth is geographically closer to Asia and is on the same time zone and therefore is perfectly positioned to capitalise on our trade relationship with Asia and in particular our overseas education export which provides over $17 billion in revenue. Combined with our large education market there has been a significant shift towards technology enterprise and innovation, encouraging young start-ups to reinvent our world.

In combining all of these threads, JCY have conceived the future of the Subiaco Oval site as an integrated campus for the education, creation and development of technology enterprise. The proposal combines a specialist secondary school with aligned tertiary campus facilities, a start-up incubator and technology centre for commerce.

It is envisaged as a local version of Silicon Valley which has been dubbed ‘Subicon Valley’.

This campus would be developed around the existing football ground, preserving this as a culturally significant icon that defines Subiaco. The oval is maintained, the goals remain in place and the Subiaco Lions football team can continue to play on the grounds. Kitchener & Mueller Park to the east would be expanded through to the Subiaco train station and the surrounding residential pockets and the new building campus would rise from this landscape incorporating green roofs, recreational facilities, a 40 storey residential tower and the ‘West Face’; a 160m rock climbing wall.

Whilst relocating the football stadium to Burswood to increase the capacity to 70,000 seats might be good for football in Western Australia, we considered the devastating impact this is likely to have on Subiaco, with businesses suffering through the lack of patronage that is otherwise provided by the spectators on a weekly basis. This would likely have a significant impact on the amenity within Subiaco which in turn will impact on residents and will drive down the local economy.

When the new Perth Stadium is complete in 2018 and the game of football moves to Burswood, this new campus will breathe new life into Subiaco.

As part of this proposal JCY were asked to consider an iconic piece of architecture in Perth that we could re-imagine; so we began questioning what defines ‘iconic’ in the Perth context, in a city where built-form does not significantly define our identity. Where a coastal flour mill famous for its Dingo logo is as significant a cultural icon as the Roundhouse Prison, Western Australia’s first piece of architecture in historical Fremantle.

We came to the conclusion that the Perth ICON is defined by its communal and social relevance and in that context, Subiaco Oval could be considered one of the most iconic buildings in Western Australia. The existing Subiaco stadium building is not recognised as a structure of any significant architectural merit and it offers nothing back to the street or the community except for the football.

Without the game of football Subiaco has lost this ICON and will be in need of a new one.

As this iconic character it is not the design of the current stadium that exemplifies it; the architecture is massive, inarticulate and without any street activation and it merely acts as a barrier protecting the grass on the oval from the public. We weren’t critical of this and recognised that it is functional and serves its purpose to facilitate the spectators yet it is a destination with a very limited role. Given this, the relocation of a large facility to Burswood, a parkland peninsula out of a city centre would be seen to be a perfectly viable and economic proposition.

The pros of this current facility however, is that it brings the football to Subiaco and along with this the burgeoning patronage. The unfavourable factors for this facility is that beyond football it has nothing else to offer and will remain permanently locked and uninviting when the sport is relocated.

The proposed Subicon Valley design has considered all of these aspects and would create a new community for Subiaco. It would deliver work, education, innovation and creativity into the heart of the town centre.

This speculative design for a new building at Subiaco oval is a direct response to the existing site conditions and surroundings and allows free movement across the oval. The footprint of the proposed scheme reflects the current stadium building footprint and consequently the existing site context, but the architecture and the function of the new design responds to the street and invites people into the grounds. Hereby the oval becomes communal ground again.

Opening the ground to public use would allow opportunities to restore many of the community events that have since closed in Subiaco; the fabulous Subiaco markets could be re-established and the proximity to the city centre and the public transport nodes allows the campus to be a walkable, viable community, successfully promoting healthy learning and working environments. The roof terraces contribute additional green space back to the city and the surrounding parklands, encouraging nature and the indigenous birdlife to return to Subiaco. Not to overlook also that this design offers the tallest rock climbing wall in the world, at 160m up the face of the residential tower.

Subicon Valley would house a completely sustainable community, a permanent 24/7 live-in work-in population and will give back to the Subiaco community and the State. Rather than dividing and selling the land off for private development, this proposition provides a development for public purpose, preserves the cultural amenity and discards the hindering architecture that currently encapsulates it.

Australia’s international education services sector represents over AUD $17 billion in revenue and our 4th largest export; with this in mind education as a commodity is going to be increasingly important.

Perhaps the future ‘Subicon Valley’ will be the actively vibrant super-campus promoting Perth and Australia as the leader in education and technology enterprise.

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Type
Commercial | Education

Project Number
15046

Status
Research Study

Location
Subiaco, Western Australia

Key Personnel
Glenn Russell, Will Thomson, Rob Ramsay

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