Flinders Street Station design competition

Victorian premier Ted Baillieu today announced a one-million-dollar international design competition for the Flinders Street Station precinct in Melbourne.

The competition is a two-stage process, with the first stage being an open ideas competition commencing in mid 2012. The shortlisted entrants will be asked to submit detailed schemes in 2013. (Shortlisted entrants will receive an honorarium.)

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The six-member judging panel will be led by Victorian Government Architect Geoffrey London and will include a mix of experts from the architecture, heritage, planning, transport and property professions.

The French Renaissance-style central passenger terminal at Flinders Street Station (including the famous ballroom) that flanks Flinders Street itself was the result of a competition won by Fawcett and Ashworth in 1889; several additions to the building and station have been made over the last century, including the 1989 design of the “Festival Marketplace” by Daryl Jackson.

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The tracks to the east of Flinders Street were developed into Federation Square by LAB architecture studio with Bates Smart in a 1997 open competition instigated by then premier Jeff Kennett. The potentially controversial nature of urban development competitions was raised by a journalist at today’s press conference – she asked Premier Baillieu whether this competition will be divisive like Federation Square or the St Kilda Triangle development. The premier responded that he expected so, that being the nature of competitions.

Other journalists asked whether there would be height restrictions or heritage controls for the site. The premier responded that an architect would not be worth “a grain of salt” if they did not respect common-sense ideas such as overshadowing the Yarra River or respecting the heritage of the building. Baillieu emphasized that this will be the decision of the architect in the first round of the competition.

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The complexity of the brief includes dealing with over 100,000 daily commuters, protecting the station’s heritage, creating a significant civic space, and “providing a value-for-money solution.”

The competition is expected to be highly contested internationally, and if delivered will join Federation Square as a key recent public addition that has come into being through a public competition.

For more information go to the Major Projects Victoria website.

For more on the history of Flinders Street Station, refer to Melbourne Curious’s blog post.

A look at what Federation Square could have been.

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