flinders street station design competition_melbourne_au
The city. The railway. The river.
Flinders Station is the busiest and most strategic area on the South side of the CBD, bounded by the Yarra River and two main streets, Swanston to East and Queens to West.
It is centrally located and is situated amongst the arts and sports precincts, universities, convention and exhibition centres.
The design approach is respectful of the pre-existing conditions and combines nature with built environment. The river is one of the key components of this re-development. The idea originates from a detailed analysis of surroundings and its current status.
This project proposes a symbolic urban marker, combining nature with the built environment. The thinking goes beyond the site boundaries; a continuous line joins Batman Park to Birrarung Marr Park to signify the importance of urban integration in the current and future growth of the city.
The urban design is a result of the relationships between the river, the railway and the city developed around the Melbourne’s transport network, as well as the first train station that was built in a key location, nearby the Sandridge river port. Flinders station however still remains the core of transports.
The proposal of the marine transport and the railway museum respectively along the Yarra and within the administration building, aims to highlight the unique role that the river and the railway have always had.
A modern interpretation of the ‘Rainbow Serpent’ is the key; new possibilities for meeting, working, travelling, connecting and living are explored. The ‘Yarra Square’ floats and protects the railway lines. The new buildings take shape and are strictly related to the platform below, merging with existing buildings and functions, land and river, built environment and nature.
The site development has a balanced proportion of solids and voids, contributing to the creation of enclosed and open spaces.
EVALUATION CRITERIA – OVERVIEW
The re-development of Flinders Station is a new urban precinct that aims to re-establish and implement the important role played by the station in the last century.
The train station itself acts first as a catalyst, being the centre of the railway network. Tram lines on three sides and a navigable river makes this site accessible by public transport from the whole Victoria and the interstate.
A green square elevated above the railway lines has been proposed to take re-possession of the site, giving the opportunity for a new urban liveable precinct with a diverse mix of uses.
A number of horizontal and vertical connections are provided at different levels and locations, facilitating passenger flows at the station level and pedestrian access and crossing at the levels above.
The proposal associates quality design to some fundamental principles to achieve excellent and sustainable architecture as well as urban integration.
Overall, the project is a potential benchmark in terms of restoration and conservation of heritage buildings and redevelopment of the immediate proximities. The approach is also projected into the future to sustain the growth of the city and support its’ current role of most liveable city in the world, as capital of arts, sports and culinary passion.
EVALUATION CRITERIA – TRANSPORT FUNCTION
The proposed design addresses the improvement of the transport function for both a mid and long term period.
Additional entrances allow multiple and universal connections from the CBD to the Southbank (North – South) and from Federation Square through to the station and the Western side of the site.
From Swanston Street, the existing main access to the station has been redesigned with a monumental entry to cater for current and future passenger and pedestrian flows.
A Western concourse has been proposed to access the 230m long platforms sustaining the population growth and peak movement during major sport, recreational and main public events.
Further and above the two existing underpasses, Elizabeth and Degraves, a number of other passageways increase and enhance the connection from North to South of the site.
Along the Yarra, a series of terraces, walkways and vertical connections provide the necessary transition making the river a key element of the design.
The tram stops in the immediate vicinity and the proposal of a modal interchange for the MMRT complete the highly efficient network of public transport and open opportunities for possible future pedestrian links.
EVALUATION CRITERIA – HERITAGE
The heritage component played a pivotal role in the development of the proposal. The buildings are restored and utilised in a number of different uses.
The lower levels of the administration building are still dedicated to the station offices, while the Western wing houses a department for transport research. The upper levels, accessible through the foyer under the clocks, are those open to the public. A railway museum with its permanent exhibition and a dedicated library are the core functions over three levels. The roof top is a more contemporary space for temporary exhibitions.
Along the site’s Northern boundary, the parcel dock becomes a new access to the station, connecting Yarra square to Flinders street. On the Western side, the Banana Alley is dedicated to its original function; a series of commercial activities fill the vaults on the two separate sides, while the internal section of the building becomes a car park.
To the South, the heritage components and the new development coexist with a balance of solids and voids. Garden terraces soften the transition between the levels and frame selected perspective views of the administration building through openings in the new construction.
On the Eastern side, the dome, the canopy and the existing small pavilion frame the new monumental access to the station and the garden square above.
EVALUATION CRITERIA – PRECINCT INTEGRATION AND URBAN DESIGN
Through a series of different levels and entrances, the development is the connection from and to the surrounding precincts. Flow connections are facilitated on all four sides, so that the station is no longer an obstacle.
The Western concourse provides and additional access adequate for both the increasing number of commuters and for people attending major public venues.
The proposal minimises the impact in terms of bulkiness and overshadowing and also allows for selected views of the heritage building to be appreciated from the Southbank.
Through a series of terraces, the Southern side of the site is connected to the river, to the station and to the green public square. Commercial activities become a front and pedestrian and cycling paths connect and extend the entire length of the site.
On the Western side, there is a potential for these terraces to be converted into walkways for pedestrian and bikers and connect both sides of the busy Queens and Flinders street intersections safely. The multilevel car park could potentially occupy the air space above the railway over Queens Bridge, giving the possibility for future development towards the convention and exhibition centre and the Docklands.
On the East side, the new square slopes towards the Swanston Street level to face Federation Square.
EVALUATION CRITERIA – DEVELOPMENT DELIVERY
The challenging re-development of Flinders Station suggests a series of different uses and possibilities for private investors to help minimise public funding.
The restoration of the administration building, takes into account various activities from which it can benefit. In the long term the proposal for a railway museum and a contemporary art space on the rooftop could become partially self-supporting. An outdoor section of the marine transport museum, with ancient ships floating on the Yarra, could be another important tourist attraction.
On the Western side a mixed-use building is suggested on the higher levels to contribute and support, with private funding, the completion of the new ‘ground area’ as a public space.
A multilevel car park for both public and private use has been proposed to help decongest the heavy traffic on the Queens Bridge and encourage the use of public transport.
The Banana Alley vaults, with their commercial destination and associated car park, contribute to the activation of the street and the riverfront and have the potential for being self-funding.
The green square rises to become green roofs over the buildings. This proposal encourages sustainable solutions, through reducing, reusing and recycling. Possibilities exploring geothermic applications can help lower running costs in the long term.
The proposal for Flinders Street Station design tackles several aspects common to other large cities, such as planning for future population growth and needs. It sets up strategies for implementing and improving existing infrastructure and provides guidelines for the expansion and recovery of existing urban fabric. Furthermore, there are other features specific to the site, such as location, site orientation, adjacent buildings and amenities.
The design suggests an organic approach to the site, in reference to the old urban settlements, where fields once surrounded towns, and to the current abundance of parks and gardens in Melbourne, ‘the Garden city’.
Another main theme of the re-development is the repossession of spaces: multiple functions grow within unused heritage buildings, a green square uses the site area at a higher level, and two gigantic roofs turn themselves into green spaces, proposing organic forms as valid alternative to skyscrapers.
It is a modern interpretation of the ‘Rainbow Serpent’, which climbs to the surface from the underground. It closely links the earth and the water and protects life and social relationships.
The station lives underneath this new ‘piazza’, which is a public, civic space with an instrumental social value. All the associated amenities and commercial activities contribute to an area alive with cafes, restaurants and shopping opportunities.
The proposed buildings also allow for a range of mixed uses and activities; residential, commercial and recreational.
The restoration of the administration building to its original status, and the proposed use as a railway museum give the opportunity to re-open a significant landmark to the public. A complete restoration of all the external facades and walls, including the front canopies, the original signage, colours, materials and decorations, reinstates the building's former glory.
The upper levels offer a series of views to South through the new re-development. The outdoor section of the railway museum, being located between the administration building and the new Square, can display restored carriages, symbol of the transport cultural heritage.
The other significant buildings and spaces restored are the Banana Alley for its external envelope, the small pavilion to the South-East of the site, and the canopy facing Federation Square. Internal renewal works are proposed to the interiors of the heritage buildings, with minor changes to adapt the existing to the new uses proposed and to the relevant regulation requirements.
The whole Flinders precinct is accessible from all four sides. Multiple pedestrian and cycling paths, universal access points and vertical connections increase its integration within its urban environment.
The development supports and encourages the use of public transport. The train station is directly accessible from the new Yarra Square. Tramlines running on all three sides and possibilities for water transport make the site well connected to the transport network. The precinct proposal aims to reduce its impact on the environment as well as on the public funding, keeping and improving its original transport function.
Flinders Street Station precinct can become a new 'breathing' area, enhancing the Victorian commitment to excellence in sustainability and setting new benchmarks worthy of the world’s most liveable city.