Australian train station attracts fierce competition

Competition to redesign Melbourne's iconic Flinders Street Station attracts entries from Herzog & de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, Grimshaw, two local architects and some Colombian graduates. But who will win?
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Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne - NH Architecture
Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne - NH Architecture

A troika of world-renowned practices are up against two local firms and a rank outsider in a contest to rethink a Melbourne landmark. The building in question is the 19th century Flinders Street railway station. And the contestants are Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron, Grimshaw, who are up against home-grown firms NH Architecture, and Ashton Raggatt McDougall - known as ARM Architecture. The sixth entrant is something of a surprise: Colombians Eduardo Velasquez + Manuel Pineda + Santiago Medina recently graduated from the University of Melbourne, and Velasquez’s thesis was on the station.

 

Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne - Zaha Hadid
Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne - Zaha Hadid

Howerver, to suggest that the competition is split between internationals and nationals is disingenuous, as each overseas firm has paired up with a well-regarded Australian counterpart. As a consequence Hassell, BVN Architecture and John Wardle Architects are also involved.

 

Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne - Eduardo Velasquez + Manuel Pineda + Santiago Medina
Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne - Eduardo Velasquez + Manuel Pineda + Santiago Medina

Enough hair splitting, what’s really interesting is the very different solutions being proposed. The graduates offer up an ‘urban forest’ on the roof; NH Architecture adds the Melbourne Room in the centre of the station as a new public venue; ARM puts a new school in it. The household names come up with some signature stuff: Zaha’s has a soft-edged prow; Herzog & de Meuron suggest a barrel-vaulted roof; and from Grimshaw there’s a succession of bridges, underpasses, vaults and green space.

 

Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne - John Wardle Architects + Grimshaw
Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne - John Wardle Architects + Grimshaw

All promise to maintain the site’s heritage (meaning its historic façade, dome and clock tower) while making the city’s busiest station more workable. It’s nail-biting stuff for all on the shortlist, until this Thursday (8 August) when the winner will be announced.

 

Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne - HASSELL + Herzog & de Meuron
Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne - HASSELL + Herzog & de Meuron


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