Australia’s Sweetheart

O arco dos relógios. Tradicional ponto de encontro da Estação. / The clocks arch, popular meeting point at the station.
The clocks arch, popular meeting point at the station.

In my first article I had commented about Flinders Street train station here in Melbourne, which once was the busiest train station around the world. It is situated in this magnificent centenary building, built in 1910 in french renaissance architecture in the heart of the city. A true cultural icon and for long considered to be one of Australia’s most significant symbols, it features, in its beautiful architecture, arched central entrance, a large main dome above the roofs and tower of clocks on the south side.

A Estação da Rua Flinders vista do terraço do prédio de esquina com a Rua Elizabeth. / The Flinders Street Station as seen from the terrace of the corner building with Elizabeth Street.
The Flinders Street Station as seen from the terrace of the corner building with Elizabeth Street.

A hundred and fifty thousand people train by its 11 boarding platforms every day and the trains leave about every 5 minutes to several suburbs and cities nearby. This number is supposed to reach 440.000 of people in 2021. For quite a long while though, Flinders Street Station has been begging for modernization, tired of its already more than 100 years old in the active and also due to the increase of the city’s population number.

O arco dos relógios, fachada principal da Estação. / The clocks arch, main facade of the Station.
The clocks arch, main facade of the Station.

There are various rooms, like the ball room, the gymnasium, the old library, the billiards room and the concert’s room under the main dome, that have been denied access to general public by decades, wishing to be revitalized. A real shame!

A primeira plataforma, vista da segunda plataforma. São 14 no total. / Platform one, seen from platform 2. They are 14 in total.
Platform one, seen from platform 2. They are 14 in total.

Well, to our luck, in 2011, the Government of Victoria, launched an international competition to revitalize and restore the station. The prize, 1 million dollars, to the winner project, attracted 118 proposals, coming from all over the world. Some of the criteria were the need to present a creative design thinking project to bring new life to this building, and, which makes it easier for the community to access the station, as much as that it kept and restored the important historical elements it features, like its facade and administrative areas, those we love. It should be a design proposal that better blended with the current abstract architecture Melbourne has going on, modern but without losing characteristic traces of its originality, improving the transportation purpose of the station, along with the important link it plays for the cyclists, trams, buses, taxis and most importantly, to the pedestrians.

A belíssima torre do relógio. / The marvelous clock tower.
The marvelous clock tower on a common cloudy day in Melbs.

From the 118 proposals were selected 6 finalists. In the images you can notice the impact those projects would cause to the community. Futuristic, gardened, square, round, audacious, the projects are fascinating and look like they are from another world, but this is the idea, to cause impact and escape from the frugal, as many other buildings in Australia do. Finally the winner was decided in August 2013, described as a “modern hub of transportation for the 21st century”, having a public plaza and a amphitheater facing the river, among other mandatory requirements. The judges called the project “beautiful and with convincing integration of the original architecture aspects, strongly reinforcing its status of exit gate”. However, Melbourne’s community showed divergent reactions, some called it a classical modern proposal and others labeled it as space ship or “giant cannelloni”. Anyway, even though all the efforts to elect a winner were made, up to now, no agreement has been sealed, to wether the implementation of this 2 billion project, will happen or not. Particularly, I consider the winner project, among the 6 finalists, one of my two favorites. I am fascinated by architecture and buildings with modern design but in keeping with it originality and would love to see the foundation stone launched before I have to leave Australia. Specially because, as it is the closest to my home, I often take trains at Flinders Street Station and I do believe the winner project associates perfectly well with the other big building designs in Melbourne, for the fourth time elected the most livable city in the world. Other congratulations, for your recently completed 179 years of foundation Melbourne. Cheers mate! See you next time.

A estação enfeitada para Natal. / The station ready for Christmas.
A estação enfeitada para Natal. / The station ready for Christmas.