Originally completed in 1909, Flinders Street Station is a much-loved railway station in Melbourne. The first station that stood on the site was opened in 1854 with a single platform which welcomed the first steam train journey in Australia. As passenger demands increased, Melbourne Terminus underwent a series of redevelopments resulting in the Flinders Street Station of today which greets over 100,000 commuters each day with its row of clocks and stunning heritage features.
The Victorian Coalition Government announced a $1m international design competition for the restoration of the station in November 2011 which extended beyond the walls of Flinders Street Station to the surrounding area. Inundated with responses, the jury panel selected six shortlisted teams in October 2012 and have now released plans, renderings and video fly-throughs of these concepts so that the public can have their say on what they would like to happen to the site.
Minister for Major Projects David Hodgett said: “We want people to think about all aspects of the designs - this is more than a beauty contest. The public will see the same plans, images, videos and material that have been provided to competition jury so they can make an informed decision for the People’s Choice Award. This award is also about hearing what the community thinks is important for Flinders Street. Feedback gathered through the voting will be used to develop and refine future plans for the station. Melbourne is a city that loves good design and vigorous debate, so please log on to the voting site and let us know what you think.”
Voting for the People’s Choice Award is open now until 5 August and the winner of this and the official jury vote will be announced on 8 August. Brief details of each of the proposals can be found below with full details and voting opportunities on the official Flinders Street Station website.
HASSELL + Herzog & de Meuron
The Australian/Swiss team has devised a concept for redevelopment that returns to the original design of Flinders Street Station, drawing it into modern times. Inspired by a local idiom of ‘meeting under the clocks’ (referring to the row of clocks at the front of the station), the team intends to make the station a destination in its own right rather than a transitory space.
In doing so HASSELL + Herzog & de Meuron will insert a public art gallery, public plaza, amphitheatre, marketplace, and permanent arts and culture festival venue into the site to transform the station into a cultural hub. Careful not to step too far from the heritage of the building, the team will return the station to its original colours and retain the Flinders Street building and corner entrance pavilion. Shelter will be provided by vaulted roofs which will cast a dappled pattern across the platforms while enhancing ventilation.
Ashton Raggatt McDougall
Integration into the city fabric is the key for Ashton Raggatt McDougall’s proposal. Focusing on the dome and clock tower, the team envisions ‘radiating ripples’ spreading out across the station site along the edge of the nearby Yarra River to create a public walkway. This walkway is part of a new network of enhanced connections with trams able to roll up at the curb, taxis fully integrated into the station and bike paths given priority over vehicular traffic. Pedestrians and cyclists will also be able to use the historic Queen’s Bridge.
Alongside the transportation core of Flinders Street Station, Ashton Raggatt McDougall would like to incorporate a secondary school for senior students, further integrating the building into the local community. In response to increased demand at the station, the team are looking to double capacity by mid-century with a new concourse at the west end with extended platforms and a complete re-design of the eastern concourse.
Eduardo Velasquez + Manuel Pineda + Santiago Medina
The submission from Eduardo Velasquez + Manuel Pineda + Santiago Medina concentrates on stitching Flinders Street Station into the local community rather than rebranding it as a mixed-use facility. The team suggests a new ferry terminal on the north bank of the Yarra River for easy interchange between rail, tram and ferry while a network of cycle paths would meet at a cycling facility in the Banana Alley Vaults.
Keen to retain elements of the heritage form, the team intend to preserve the Banana Alley Vaults, Milk Dock and Signal Box A, bringing them up to date with modern standards. The Administration Building will also be refurbished and the ballroom and gym transformed into a railway museum while a glass ‘shroud’ will preserve the southern façade. One of the defining elements of this particular entry is the creation of an urban park on the roof of the station for public use.
Keeping the open-air feel of Flinders Street Station is the key to the submission from local practice NH Architecture. The team’s proposal inserts a glass lattice roof over new concourses to shelter travellers from changeable weather conditions while retaining views of Melbourne. This concept ensures that the much-loved dome and clock tower are preserved but also suggests the creation of a new ‘landmark’ for the station in the form of The Melbourne Room, a cultural hub for this artistic area.
As with all of the other shortlisted proposals, the NH Architecture submission enhances connectivity between the station and surrounding urban fabric. A pedestrian loop will be inserted a level above the existing platforms, connecting the Swanston Street entry point to the new western concourse. Arching across the river will be a new pedestrian bridge for commuters from Southbank and passengers from the Elizabeth and Queen Street precinct will be able to connect via a new western station entrance.
John Wardle Architects + Grimshaw
John Wardle Architects + Grimshaw have taken note of the theatrical nature of the heritage architecture and grand elements of the original building in their ‘Transport Theatre’ concept. The competition submission draws on this majestic form and the experience of movement to provide Melbourne residents with a destination for theatrical and civic experiences including promenades, vaults, amphitheatres and parks. The construction of a Grand Railway Dining Room and restoration of the existing ballroom are planned to bookend the historic buildings.
In order to gain the necessary space for a civic project of this nature, the team suggests re-orientating the existing concourse to the north, freeing up the eastern end of the precinct. A plaza opposite Federation Square would be provided shelter by a new design museum and a park to the west is drawn across the Yarra River by a number of bridges. Additional open-air space would be afforded by vaulted archways along the riverside topped with public gardens.
Zaha Hadid Architecture & BVN Architecture
Zaha Hadid Architecture + BVN Architecture’s sculptural proposal looks to reinvigorate the Yarra River promenade with a new amphitheatre and performance pontoon while cycle and pedestrian access weaves along the water’s edge. In order to enhance the public aspect of the station and draw passers-by in to use the space, the team suggests un-ticketed access and a pedestrian tunnel running beneath all platforms connecting to the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel.
Plans also include the construction of a new western concourse and event space with views over the river. Office and retail units also feature in the designs alongside a boutique hotel whose lobby would be located in the existing Banana Alley Vaults, dotted with bars and restaurants. A galleria would be created between the concourse and Administration Building, the southern façade of which would be kept visible to passengers. Enhanced wayfinding and connectivity throughout the station would be afforded by escalators, lifts and ramps and a piazza which would cross the site, linking the city to Southbank across Sandridge Bridge.