Constructed in 1912-15, the pier was decommissioned in 1985. Together with the adjacent Station Pier, the complex is an exemplar of pre-containerised shipping facilities and has a rich social history associated with immigration, trade and the events of two world wars. Fire damage at Princes Pier had caused the removal of most of its structures, except for the gatehouse which has now been conserved and restored.
Key to the design approach taken in the pier’s transformation was the making of interventions that invite human interaction. Drawing people onto the pier, and through its series of new public spaces, is the magical spectacle of a forest of timber piles that stretches out into Port Phillip Bay — the outer 360m of original piles have been retained undecked, the tops trimmed and capped. They impress upon the viewer the enormous scale of the structure.
The organisation of spaces on the reinstated concrete deck echoes the original pier configuration, which included a central raised area running full length. The main space includes a ‘lawn’ flanked by trees, the restored gatehouse and its iron gates, and two timber decked areas. These ‘rooms’ are flanked by circulation space, with an open area at the seaward end. The new illuminated pillar signage was designed by artist Stephen Hennessey.
Lovell Chen’s work included the design of the interpretation scheme, some of which incorporate reclaimed materials from the site. It focuses on a series of notable features, such as a preserved segment of original pier structure and the reinstated railway tracks. Historian Jill Barnard provided the written material. A weathering steel kiosk houses a digital display of historical information. We also designed the wayfinding signage.
Share this page