PLANNING PANNELS VICTORIA
REVIEW OF MELBOURNE PLANNING SCHEME AMENDMENT C171
EXPERT WITNESS STATEMENT OF GEOFFREY FALK
ON BEHALF OF THE CITY OF MELBOURNE
17 January 2012
Name and Address of Expert
11A Macfarlan Street, South Yarra, Victoria, 3141
Bachelor of Architecture, R.M.I.T. and University of Melbourne, 1972.
Architects Registration Board of Victoria, Registration No. 2758
Experience and Expertise
Geoffrey Falk is the Design Manager at FPPV Architecture.
Geoff is highly experienced as a design architect specializing in the master
planning and detailed design of major projects, urban spaces, multi-storey
buildings and large scale public facilities. His understanding of highly
public environments, of pedestrian infrastructure elements and key building
services interfaces has been demonstrated throughout his career.
Geoff has extensive experience in the areas of Commercial building,
Institutional and Local and State Government buildings, and complex heritage
issues. He is a strategic thinker with a sophisticated knowledge of
planning and contemporary aesthetics and practiced environmental design
He has also designed many environmentally sustainable buildings, from some
the first buildings with passive and active sustainability features in the
seventies, through to the present time working for repeat and recommended
clients, and influenced by his work on the first green office building in
Melbourne; 60L for the Australian Conservation Foundation.
Geoff has a great capacity to visualise and develop conceptual solutions for a
array of project types. His visualizations are locally and internationally
acknowledged as being highly successful in communicating to the public and
stakeholder groups the key design criteria in planning and design.
Scope of This Report
During the preparation of the Planning Scheme Amendment C171 the City of
Melbourne commissioned me to do a study of the effect of ‘Casing’ on the
feasibility of podium level car parking. This work is outlined below.
This statement restricts itself to the viability of ‘Casing’ above ground car
space with active, usable and valuable floor area.
Current Methods of Treating Upper Level Car Parking
The norm at present is for upper level car parking to be treated as open deck
parking where a percentage of two, usually opposite, sides of the building are
open so as to allow the unassisted flow of air to remove exhaust fumes.
a long held perception, by many developers and building owners, that the view
cars is undesirable, various screening elements have been used which have
regarded as a sculptural design element. The exposure of car storage floors to
street results in a total absence of active space facing the street. This results in
dead, unchanging, facades with no natural, passive surveillance of the public
Examples of screened car parking floors in the Southbank area.
What Form Can ‘Casing’ Take
‘Casing’ could take the form of residential, commercial or public use space which is a
minimum of 5 to 8 metres deep. This depth of space provided at podium level will be
sustainable space because natural light and ventilation can be designed into the
the building and will be desirable habitable space.
Advantages of ‘Casing’
Passive Surveillance of the Public Realm
Active space in the first five levels of a
development (including Ground Floor) will
provide passive surveillance to the public
realm providing a safer neighbourhood
environment and therefore adding value to
the development itself.
In his book “Cities For People” Jan Gehl
states that “contact between building and
street is possible from the lowest five floors.”
The inclusion of residential, commercial or
public use spaces at these levels will ensure
that the street has a safer feeling at all times.
This example in Wellington, New Zealand
demonstrates clearly the effect of having
habitable space overlooking the public realm,
the clear activation of the building façade and
the consequent feeling of a link between built
space and the space between the buildings.
This contrasts markedly with examples
where open deck parking or decorative
screens covering them are exposed to the
Submissions have been made which claim that the ‘casing’ idea will take away
design freedom and that car parking screens can be strong design elements.
introduction of active space facing streets in the first five levels of a building
introduce “life” and change into the building facade and will present many
design opportunities than those presented by the decorative treatment of car
Two of the submissions state that the ‘Casing’ of the podium level car parking
reduce the opportunities to provide sustainable ventilation solutions. The
following optional design studies show that there are a number of ways of
providing sustainable ventilation to car parking podium floors.
The three site sizes used were selected because they are typical of the
development sites in the Southbank area. The large ones are full block depth
the smaller one is typical of blocks where a mid block laneway is present.
1. Large Site 90x68m
This option uses the possibility of light and ventilation wells where the
could be driven either mechanically or by ‘solar chimneys’
2. Median Site 90x35m
This option assumes that there would be a void space between the active space
and the car parking to allow for natural ventilation of the parking space, floor
levels of the parking floors and the active floors align and escape stairs can be
provided in the void spaces. This method could also be used on the larger site
3. Small Site 45x60approx.m
This option assumes open deck car parking space to the lane edge and a mechanically
exhausted plenum duct behind the activated frontage. It would be possible to use
chimneys to power the ventilation of the space.
I have made all the inquiries that I believe are desirable and appropriate and that no
matters of significance which I regard as relevant have to my knowledge been
from the Panel.