Flinders St Station : John Wardle Architects, Grimshaw, Room11

Room11 are part of the team shortlisted for the Flinders Street Station Competition. Please take the time to cast your vote for your preferred station design in the People’s Choice Award . Voting takes place online from 23 July to the 5 August at www.voteflindersst.com.au

The collaboration between John Wardle Architects and Grimshaw, working closely with Room 11 Architects, RBA Heritage Architects and SKM Engineers, has brought together a highly diverse team of Australian and international architects to design the rejuvenation of Flinders Street Station. The design is finally revealed as part of the People’s Choice Award launch by Major Projects Victoria, showcasing the six short-listed competitors.

Our design conceives the station as an ensemble, each part precisely considerate of its place in the city. The theatrical nature of the station is amplified by the stitching of city to river. Landscape, bridges and vaults are the threads.

Rather than a classic European end of the line station with a grand internalised hall, the approach has been to focus on the urban edges – the interfaces with the city. The station is not an oasis, separate from the city.

Our design emphasises great public spaces at the four edges of the station. A grand bustling station plaza opposite Federation Square is sheltered by the edge of a new design museum. A new park at the west end leaps across the train lines weaving together the bridges over the Yarra River into the greater fabric of the city. Vaulted archways hold niche activities to enliven the river walk and elevated gardens over the top of the arches link park to plaza. A new Grand Railway Dining Room and restored Ballroom bookend the historic buildings along the Flinders Street city edge. In the centre, the new concourse bridges become promenades further tying the river back to the city.

Together, these ideas respond to our central theme of “Transport Theatre” where the station is a place for watching the daily life of the city. It is built upon the experience of movement to include the theatrical and varied nature of civic experiences – promenades, vaults, amphitheatres, seats, parks, and the spectacle.

The design responds to practical and critical transport demands, in particular the need to reimagine the station to cater for the significant growth in public transport patronage. Our decision to reorientate the existing concourse to the north allows the station to operate in a highly effective way, drawing people through the historic building fabric, and releases the eastern end of the precinct for new civic use.

John Wardle, Principal, noted that the urban context was very different along each edge of the site ; the city on Flinders Street, Federation Square to the east, the river to the south, and the rail lines to the west. Wardle states “In a city known for its intimate spaces, like its laneways, we see each of these conditions requiring its own response. Our design seeks a natural flow of people across the station – both at concourse level and the underpasses and vaults. This stitching pattern of pathways across the railway lines has become the emblem of the project for us.”

Neil Stonell, Partner at Grimshaw Architects adds “Our approach is driven by a crafted balancing of urban place making with a strategic redesign of the station, allowing us to reimagine one of Melbourne’s most loved and historic buildings as the heart of the new station This newly invigorated Flinders Street Station will meet the demands of the coming decades, while being eminently achievable within the complex environment in which it exists.”

Aaron Roberts of Room 11: “The Flinders street frontage, the contained historic banana vaults and the reimagined underpasses provided us with great opportunities for the creation of a new network of city experiences including a bazaar of newly defined markets and retail spaces linking Flinders Street to the edge of the Yarra”.

John Wardle Architects and Grimshaw with Room 11 Architects, RBA Heritage Architects, SKM Engineers. Additional support by TCL and Urbis.