Designed by Ashton Raggatt McDougall (ARM), their proposal for the Flinders Street Station, which was recently shortlisted in the design competition part of the People’s Choice Award launch by Major Projects Victoria. Their proposal aims to create a seamless interface with the city, its streets and lanes, its intermodal transportation, and its future dreams. On the river this seamlessness is not so much a measurement of ease or just intentionality, but rather instead a sudden sense of spectacle, a special realization of the river that’s always been there, even a sense of history and time. More images and architects' description after the break.
At Elizabeth Street this seamlessness reinforces the history already there; the escalators, stairs and lifts emphasize the historic entry and the axis of the clock tower above. The Western concourse itself is spacious but also directional and self-explanatory, helping the traveler find her way. The grand arcade along the rippling western view provides the perfect place to take a breather, with coffee or something more while overhead the “golden” ceiling with its sparkling domes, reminds Melbournians of their first golden age and the biggest find of all, the “Welcome Stranger”. From here the links made to the north bank just below, by escalator lift and stair, provide access either directly to the Southbank Footbridge or otherwise to the Sandridge Bridge and beyond.
Perhaps the primary function of this project is to improve the Flinders Street Station precinct as a civic and public transport hub. In essence we have sought to increase inter-modal and pedestrian permeability, yet not only in a mechanical fashion but also as a civic and cultural experience. The relationship between pedestrian traffic, trams, and the urban realm became crucial to our understanding of this precinct. We have brought the trams in close to the station with northbound and westbound trams boarding and alighting directly onto the footpath, this afforded us traffic efficiencies that allowed us to widen the footpaths, creating a seamless and integrated pedestrian experience.
The imperative to improve the transport function of the station and its connection with the urban realm as well as other transport modes must be considered in the context of Melbourne’s recent surge in public transport usage and the anticipation that weekday patronage at Flinders Street Station will more than double within the next decade.
Particular attention was focused on passenger experience and the provision of appropriate circulation capacity for pedestrian movement during periods of commuter peak usage, as well as special events. During a critical 2046 AM peak the station will accommodate 105,000 movements over a two hour period. Nearly 55,000 movements will be alighting movements to the street, 40,000 movements will interchange with other trains or the MMRT and 10,000 movements will be inbound from the street.
The new western concourse will distribute passengers along the length of the platforms. Platform access from street is biased towards the east end. This provision of vertical circulation will adequately cater for all peak demands. The concourse designs facilitate open and clear movement as well as passive surveillance. Visibility modelling of the re-designed eastern concourse has helped refine a layout that will complement the wayfinding strategy and minimise signage systems through the provision of consistent visual connections.
The proposal, which involves partial demolition of some building elements which are of little or no significance in the Station Complex, and the construction of substantial new buildings, extensions to historic fabric and other alterations, will serve to rigorously and creatively upgrade this registered heritage place and guarantee vital new uses for the currently near redundant Station Administration Building. The proposal, as envisaged, will not detrimentally impact upon the established cultural heritage significance of the Flinders Street Railway Station Complex, nor will the proposal dominate the visual setting of the registered heritage place when viewed from the critical vantage points in Flinders Street and Swanston Street.
The proposal is a vital concept which, whilst respecting, retaining and maintaining the essential cultural significance of the place, has for the first time, effectively linked the Flinders Street Railway Station Complex with the Yarra River. Flinders Street Station is indeed an icon for the city and a considerable obstacle. In exploring the means to improve permeability both east/west and north/south we have discovered various exciting possibilities.
Our metaphor uses travelling waves, reflection, amplitude and propagation. Our computer simulation uses animation, ripples and metablobs to let us wonder at what other perfect inspiration might spring from this Birrarung, “this place of mist and shadow”, this mishearing of what was flow and flooding “Yarra Yarra”, this other gold, this kind of dreaming.
Overall, our scheme aims to find the proper balance of a triple bottom line, a value-for-money proposal of civic proportions, a scheme that can facilitate the riches we already have and expectations of the future we can only guess.