Flinders Street Station Design Competition, Melbourne, Australia                         2011

Team: Meir Krispin, Yuval Levi & Becci Krispin                                                                  Submitted

FLINDERS STREET STATION DESIGN COMPETITION

TITLE: THE ARCHITECTURE OF ICON, HABIT AND INTERCULTURAL INTERACTION

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

THE CONCEPT: Iconic architecture has the power to create unity and identity, bringing people together through common reflection of the icon. Habit creates motion and intersection: By facilitating the habit of movement from one place to another, a transport “hub” naturally creates intersection between people and cultures. This design combines and builds on these two concepts, translating unity and movement into an architectural icon which elevates the essence of Melbourne’s vibrant multicultural community into an interwoven intercultural experience.

THE ICON: Cementing and Expanding Flinders Street Station as a Melbourne Icon: This design proposal preserves the existing iconic heritage elements, fully integrating them into the design, as well as adding new aspects. The towers and dome rising out of the train-line at the western end of the site create a wide, open view-line, as well as an uplifting and inspiring architectural experience which houses the new Intercultural Centre, a symbol of Melbourne’s unique character. The wide open spaces and elevated gardens complement nearby parks and open areas, while adding innovative and sustainable green spaces to the city.

HABIT: Upgrading the Station Into an Intermodal Transport Hub to Cater for Expanding Use of Public Transport: Architecture is made to be used – it is like a tool designed for regular use. Flinders Street Station is already an integral part of the daily habit of over 200,000 people per workday, as well as many thousands more who use the station on a regular or occasional basis. This design proposal will significantly improve the transport function of the station, including increasing passenger porosity and flow, accommodating increasing services and users, improving ease of intermodal transfers, enhancing amenity and building sustainability. The design will also activate “habitual” non-transport use of the station by integrating new commercial spaces, as well as transit paths and connections to the riverbank, gardens and the facilities of the Intercultural Centre.

INTERCULTURAL INTERACTION: Building a New Element Defining Melbourne’s Unique Multicultural Character. Melbourne is proud to be home to an incredibly diverse range of people from all corners of the globe. The Intercultural Centre will build on this multiculturalism, creating a new facility to promote interactions between cultures and creating innovative spaces for cross-fertilization, cooperation and relationships. This Centre builds on the fact that multiculturalism is already an integral part of the station, which is constantly used by people of all cultural and language groups, from all areas of Melbourne and Victoria, as well as travellers and people of all abilities. Facilities in the Intercultural Centre will include a “Restomarket”, performance and exhibition spaces, a multicultural resource centre, an educational centre for languages and cultural development, as well as commercial facilities such as hotel and office spaces.

EVALUATION CRITERIA

The design proposal responds to the five Design Evaluation Criteria as follows:

Overall Design Merit: This proposal presents a creative and respectful design response which balances the development of harmonious iconic architecture with the preservation and integration of the important heritage elements of the station. The design upgrades the transport function of the station, fully equipping it to cater for projected future increases in patronage. The proposed Intercultural Centre takes advantage of the outstanding development potential, location and views of the western end of the site, opening this area for public enjoyment with its facilities, gardens and an elevated glassed viewing platform. This Centre will build a unique functional space to celebrate and elevate Melbourne’s multicultural character, as well as creating commercial opportunities. The design strengthens connections to all surrounding precincts, opening access and view-lines in all directions, and builds urban sustainability through the provision of green spaces and integration of sustainable design features. This design will transform the Flinders Street Station precinct into a distinguished architectural icon which will build community, sustainability and enrichment of the urban experience.

Transport Function: The design incorporates many features to improve the transport function of the station and cater for projected future increases in usage. Improved passenger porosity and flow is achieved through the use of two new access levels, the podium level and the mezzanine level of the canopy, which provide safe, efficient and clear movement from all station interfaces to the platforms and through to the Middle Garden and the Intercultural Centre. These levels also integrate the station and the platforms with all floors of the Administration Building, as well as providing pathways for transit through the station in multiple directions. The canopy provides protection from the elements and allows for natural ventilation and light throughout the station. Dedicated ticketing and information areas are housed in the Main Dome, and electronic signage along the Swanston Street facade of the canopy provides clear and updated rail service information. Ramps and elevators allow universal access through the underground crossings to all areas of the station and throughout the precinct for people of all abilities, as well as prams and bicycles. Transit and ticketing pathways at the Swanston Street and Flinders Street interfaces provide full integration with surrounding intermodal public transport, including a connection to the proposed MMRT at Platform No. 1 and the podium level. The design includes flexibility to accommodate extra services and extended or extra platforms and track configurations, and clear access points for maintenance and emergency access are provided at all times.

Heritage: Full retention, conservation and integration of all key heritage elements are an important feature of this design proposal. The Main Dome and the Administration Building, including all facades and the iconic entrance under “the clocks”, are restored and integrated with the station at both the podium and mezzanine levels. Platforms are renovated and maintained, including the historic Platform No. 1, which forms an important connection to the Administration Building and Flinders Street frontage. The Ballroom and Gymnasium are renovated and opened to the public as part of the facilities of the new Intercultural Centre, including creation of a public entrance to the Ballroom at the western end. Other areas of the Administration Building are used for station administration, as well as providing spaces for commercial outlets and services. Historic structural elements of the eastern concourse are retained and form supports for vine plantations as part of the Eastern Concourse Garden, reminiscent of Victoria’s famous Yarra Valley Vineyard area. The Milk dock is conserved and integrated into the new carpark, including adaptive re-use of the original ramp as an entrance. The Banana Alley Vaults are renovated and adapted for continued commercial use underneath (and integrated with) the new Intercultural Centre. Signal Box A, which has already been adapted for re-use as a Youth Arts Space, is retained in its current form and will benefit from the activities of the new Intercultural Centre.

Precinct Integration and Urban Design: The design proposal redefines the Flinders Street Station precinct as a “channel” for connectivity, movement and flow, providing pathways in all directions for movement both within the precinct and to the city and river interfaces on all 4 sides. In relation to the city grid, the design creates a dialogue with this form, with the vertical elements of the Intercultural Centre extending and participating in the grid, while the station and middle garden maintain the “off-grid” form of the existing station and Federation Square. The design proposal fully meets overshadowing requirements and height restrictions, as well as maintaining all key view lines and important landmark views, including adding an open view line from Federation Square all the way through the station to the Intercultural Centre. The open-sided train station canopy provides a balance between shelter from the elements and the fresh environment of an open-air space, while extensive gardens provide outdoor spaces for public enjoyment. The design promotes sustainable urbanism in numerous ways, including the promotion of sustainable transport strategies (such as increasing use of public transport and bike/train travel), provision of open green spaces, digital information boards for sustainability education and sustainable design features such as the “Kinetic Generator” system and space-efficient carpark with vertical stackers.

Development Delivery: Development is divided into two stages: Stage A comprises renovating and upgrading the train station, including building the podium (ground) level and gardens, the new mezzanine level and canopy, as well as renovating and activating the Administration Building. The existing platforms provide the foundations of support structures for the new elements. This stage prioritises transport improvement and increased patronage capacity, as well as contributing income to the project through provision of commercial opportunities on the mezzanine level and in the Administration Building. Stage B comprises construction of the new Intercultural Centre on the podium level at the western end of the site. The Intercultural Centre realizes the development potential of this section and provides many social, environmental and economic benefits. Social benefits include arts, cultural, educational, recreational and assembly facilities, as well as a Multicultural Treasury located in the sphere, which houses a collection and library to support these facilities. Environmental benefits include green spaces and plantings, efficient watering systems and use of passive cooling surface materials. Economic benefits include commercial and income-generating opportunities such as hotel and office spaces, the “Restomarket” and spaces for rent to relevant service providers. Note that the design complies with existing legislation and rail standards, and does not exceed existing site boundaries (with the exception of one optional balcony overhanging Flinders Street as part of the Intercultural Centre). All development stages are designed to minimise disruption to rail services during construction, as well as ensuring continual access for pedestrians, bicycles and maintenance and emergency vehicles.

COMPLIANCE STATEMENT

The project fully complies with the Design Brief. All important heritage icons are protected, restored and retained within the new design. The transport function of the station is improved and expanded to cater for projected future increases in usage and to integrate the station with surrounding intermodal transport. The precinct is opened up to improve access, porosity and activation throughout the station and to integrate the precinct with all surrounding facilities and interfaces. Development delivery is designed to minimise disruption to existing services and provide commercial opportunities to generate income for the project. Clear social, environmental and economic benefits are generated, including building of intercultural community, sustainability and commercial opportunities. There are no significant departures from the Design Brief.

SUMMARY

The design proposal creates a harmonious iconic development which sustains urban diversity and transforms the precinct into an “urban cultural riverbank”. The design generates spaces for habitual movement and creates a dialogue of both “grid” and “off-grid”, responding to the historic form of the city. The new podium level and Intercultural Centre provide places for social and cultural diversity to flourish, as well as extensive sustainable features and gardens. The design creates urban linkages through spatial experiences, as well as trans-urban linkages through extended view lines over the metropolis and within the site. Through this design the Flinders Street Station Precinct is revitalized into an outstanding architectural icon and vibrant intercultural experience, adding to the celebrated qualities of “the world’s most liveable city”.

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