Flinders St Station
International Design Competition
Train Station Proposal
In November 2011, the Victorian Coalition Government launched a $1 million international design competition to rejuvenate and restore Melbourne’s iconic Flinders Street Station. The Flinders Street Station Design Competition sought the best ideas from around the world to re-energise the station and its surrounds, while maintaining its beloved heritage features. Tectvs sought to participate against the world's best. Despite not winning, we were keen to show our work in a public context in the backyard of our new second office in Melbourne.
The proposition by Tectvs returns Flinders Street Station to its former glory, making it once again the centrepiece of the Melbourne Central Business District, restoring and reusing the original administration building, as a boutique railway hotel, the ballroom, with bars, restaurants and function spaces, making it again accessible to all.
The State Government of Victoria later abandoned the competition as the way forward for Flinders Street Station - and with it the redesign of the station - and has instead opted for a smaller schedule of repairs and internal reworking.
Our competition proposal was as follows:
That grand romantic pursuit of the great train journey has been lost. It has instead become a chore, almost threatening, even dangerous! This proposition reclaims that romanticism, echoing those grand steam engines and their billowing plumes as trains arrive (and depart) Flinders Street Station.
Returning Flinders Street Station to that grand era through contemporary forms as metaphors is the cornerstone of the proposition; Arrival, Plumes; Platform; Infinity. The arrival captures the spirit of those grand 19th century stations and their vaulted structures. The ribbons recall that same era as metaphors for the billowing plumes of smoke from old steam trains. Platform as metaphor for the meeting place, a community space. And infinity, as metaphor for the constant motion of people in a modern city; Melbourne.
Together, they are an amalgam that recalls the classic railway station, beckoning that bygone era of travel by train. Combine with this the Heart, a spiralling sculptural ramp on Flinders Street that links all levels and the Gantry, a glass-clad structure that is both transparent and permeable, bringing shelter, but maintaining those unbroken views and promoting ventilation.
Catering for significant growth in transport patronage, the proposition reinforces intermodal opportunities, with Swanston Street, Flinders Street, Elizabeth Street, the lanes and the Yarra River, integrating the Station with the surrounding precincts, improving linkages with the CBD and Yarra River. It better utilises the available land and air space above the rail corridor, providing a significant civic space. A value for money proposition, able to be delivered in discrete stages, injecting income back into the project and enabling reinvestment in subsequent stages.
The proposal has at its core several elements; arrival, plumes; platform; infinity. Arrival captures the spirit of those grand 19th century stations with their vaulted structures
The form of the ribbons recalls the romantic era of rail travel as metaphor for the billowing plumes of smoke from old steam trains, providing interconnected circulation and a conduit for air movement in the same element. Platform as community space is a metaphor for a meeting place, as beloved were farewelled on some distant journey or greeted on their return. Finally, the infinite and constant motion of people is the final anchoring idea. Together, they are an amalgam of interwoven metaphors that recall the classic railway station, beckoning that bygone romantic era of travel by train. Transcending the banality of what rail travel has become, returning to a time long past. The strengthening and refocusing of the Flinders Street entrance as the Heart of the proposition by an interwoven sculptural ramp giving quick and easy access to all levels of the redeveloped Flinders Street Station, will relieve the Swanson Street entrance of some of the demands of a busy bustling train station. And the Gantry, a glass glad structure that is both transparent and open, bringing shelter, but maintaining those unbroken views and promoting cross flow ventilation. Finally, the seemingly embroidered pattern of the veil recalls that grand time of early Melbourne and art nouveau, drawn from the historic Flinders Street Station windows.
The proposal reinforces Flinders Street Station as the intermodal hub of Melbourne, reconnecting the CBD and Yarra River. It reclaims the dignity of rail travel, largely lost to air travel in recent time. Railway stations were once a sign of prosperity, a sign of modernism and progress. This mantle has been taken over by air travel and the car. Like Europe and with the densification of urban areas, the railway station is reclaiming its place as a symbol of a modern vibrant city. This is the vision for a revitalised Flinders Street Station. Speed was once a symbol of modernity, an aspiration, desired and sought after, but during much of the later part of the 20th Century, it has become a pejorative. It can again become an aspiration, for those wishing to come and go quickly, enhanced by the experience. And for those wanting to take their time, they too can slowly linger without fear of being overwhelmed. The strengthened Flinders Street entrance and interwoven ramp quickly and easily move people to all levels of the redeveloped Flinders Street Station, relieving the Swanson Street entrance. The Station Pier on the Yarra River connects the station to the potentials of integrating the river into the movement networks, strengthening the tourism potential of the station in unison with the boutique railway hotel.
The proposition returns Flinders Street Station to its former glory, bringing back the public by better connecting with the daily machinations of a modern city. The ground floor operations improve efficiency and connectivity. The first floor is primarily set aside for driver amenities. Administration is relocated into a new building, and the railway hotel on the remaining levels, capturing that other European tradition, bringing the ballroom and billiard hall back to life and creating a place that embraces and celebrates rail travel. The seemingly embroidered pattern of the veil recalls that grand time of early Melbourne and the art nouveau inspired glass of the historic Flinders Street Station windows, using familiar motifs as the creative driver, also recalling Melbourne’s great artistic traditions like the Heidelberg School. Materiality plays a part, with the use of copper; gold brought the miners, but copper brought prosperity, even to this very day.
The proposition reasserts the Elizabeth Street entrance with Swanson Street as the postcard entrance. Relieving its dominance enables it to better connect with Federation Square, extending the paving across Swanson Street into and around Flinders Street Station. The commercial entrance to the new building is at the Queen Street end. The Station Pier on the Yarra River brings activity to all sides of the station, promoting connections with Southbank, attracting tourism and improving movements around the station. The Yarra River becomes part of the transport solution. Historical connection with the Queens Street gateway is strengthened and the ramp links to the concourse promoting it as civic space with views to the river. This re-emphasis onto Flinders Street promotes movement through Melbourne’s historic lanes. The commercial building reinforces the gateway at the other end of the Station.