Authors : Pei Ern Ho and Angelika Irawan

University : Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Status : BArch, 2013

Advisors : Gretchen Wilkins, Ian Nazareth

Title : Cars-tomized Identity

Factory buildings anticipate and celebrate change. They have accommodated changes in technology from the earliest manner of making things – from medieval foundries to industrial mills to vertical assembly lines to mobile robotics. As the materials and techniques of making things change, so do architecture and the city around them.

Meanwhile, the image of the factory building itself, as well as how it is depicted in popular media, reflects and reinvents our attitudes toward industry, production and consumption. Although not always at the same pace. This studio will design a space for contemporary manufacturing in Melbourne ” (Wilkins, Nazareth)

Factory buildings have always created a dour, negative, stereotypical image. We aim to first challenge, then alter that mentality of what a factory is supposed to be. We propose for a Car Customization Factory on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD, directly opposite one of Melbourne’s iconic train stations: Southern Cross Station (the terminus of the state’s regional railway network).

This factory will receive the basic car frames from its headquarters in Port Melbourne, have it transported to the factory via Southern Cross Station and using a bridge over as a direct means of connection. The bridge is also utilized as a pedestrian walkway into the factory. Making a bold urban move by utilizing Southern Cross Station as the first step of the production process, we celebrate manufacturing and revive the industry by bringing it into the city.

The continual production processes such as spray painting, many forms of assembly, detailing and test checks will be done within the factory before the car is tested by the consumers, using the ramps that circulate around the building and production boxes. The choices made for the cars are determined by the consumers when they customise their car in the design hub on the top level of this factory. With three-quarters of the factory being quite exposed, the remaining one-quarter utilizing perforated corrugated galvanised steel mesh as its façade determines the private client-based floors holding programs such as the design hub, private lounges, offices as well as production boxes.

Moving away from the traditional horizontal production line, this factory takes on vertical production lines instead. Production boxes are attached as individual elements around the central core. The production line begins from above, making its way down to the basement for the final stage of production wherein the test chamber lies.  As these boxes are separated, a system is created in order to transport the cars from production boxes via a crane system. The in-between spaces that these boxes create are employed as circulation spaces for the public. Therefore, the public is constantly engaged with the factory through a visual connection created by the in-between spaces as well as the ability to see into the production boxes from these circulation areas.

Essentially, there are two types of ramps that circulate the building: going up and going down. They form a loop with an exit point on the ground floor where clients are able to drive off after they have tested their newly customized car using these ramps. Different ramp conditions are created: concrete and steel mesh. As we intend to provide the public with views of the car from dissimilar angles, this steel mesh flooring will be able to display the underside of the car for the public standing below looking up.

Two streaks of red lights on the LED screens placed on the sides of the ramps will run alongside the cars when they are being tested allowing for building activation even at night. The LED screens will also function as a means of advertising for the produce of this factory. Additionally, the ramps will also dual up as a track for cable cars that will be used as a means of transportation for people from the main factory to the adjacent building where one of the cafés are located. By being on the adjacent building, a zoomed out view of the overall factory is possible from a higher viewpoint.

The estimated amount of time needed to complete a whole production cycle of an individual car is expected to be around 4 – 5 hours with more advanced technology in the future. As the nature of the production line utilizes a top-down flow, clients who have completed their customization in the design hub above will be able to follow their car through the entire process.  The café on the adjacent building is placed at a mid-way point of the factory; clients would be able to utilize the café as a ‘pit-stop’ before continuing on with the journey through the factory. Alternatively, a second café and a mini library are located on the ground floor where clients are able to occupy themselves while they wait for their car to arrive at the final stages of production. Customers will be issued temporary tablets that will allow them to follow the entire production cycle each step of the way.