Herzog & de Meuron wins Melbourne station competition

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Swiss architect studio Herzog & de Meuron teamed up with Australian firm Hassell to win the competition to redesign Melbourne’s iconic railway station at Flinders Street.

The architects won $500,000 prize, while the Victorian Government was left with two years to decide whether to proceed with the project.

Rivaling architecture firms including Zaha Hadid and Grimshaw, Herzog & de Meuron and Hassell’s winning design includes the construction of a new barrel- vaulted roof structure enveloping the station, bringing in light and ventilation onto the station concourses.

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Plans also include adding a new public art gallery dedicated to oceanic and contemporary art, a plaza, a marketplace, an amphitheatre as well as a permanent home for some of the city’s cultural festival organisations.

“Our proposal respects the heritage, improves all aspects of the transport hub, and underscores its central civic nature with new cultural and public functions for all residents and visitors to Melbourne,” said the design team.

The judges complimented the design scheme for its “beautiful and compelling integration of aspects of the original station design,” adding that they support the decision to keep the height down on the east side while increasing it to the west.

“The extended vaulted forms provide a distinctive branding for the city, their eastern elevation to Swanston Street imaginatively recalls the intended – but not executed – proposition by Fawcett and Ashworth [the architects of the existing station building] of a family of variously scaled vaults,” they said. “At the same time, however, the language is clearly contemporary, underlined by the fact that the new line-up of vaults is bracketed by the pair of historic Flinders Street Station buildings facing the Swanston Street concourse.”

They continued:” The main train hall offers a celebratory experience of rail travel; its light-weight structure promises a filigree of ever-changing dappled light while providing ventilation, shelter and way-finding. The vaulted form will appeal to the universal collective memory of the great station terminuses of the past”.

The public vote was received by Colombian architects Eduardo Velasquez, Manuel Pineda and Santiago Medina whose design featured an additional public garden over the roof of the station with glazed domes over the tops of the platforms.

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