Zaha Hadid and Herzog & de Meuron
shortlisted for Melbourne station overhaul


Flinders Street Station by Zaha Hadid Architects and BVN Architecture

News: Herzog & de Meuron, Zaha Hadid and Grimshaw are among the shortlisted architects in a competition to overhaul Melbourne's iconic nineteenth-century railway station at Flinders Street.

Flinders Street Station by Zaha Hadid Architects and BVN Architecture
Above and top: Flinders Street Station by Zaha Hadid Architects and BVN Architecture

Six international teams have been named on the shortlist for the $1 million redesign, which will see the modernisation of Melbourne's busiest station and its surrounding spaces, as well as the restoration of the building's period features.

Flinders Street Station by Hassell + Herzog & de Meuron
Flinders Street Station by Hassell and Herzog & de Meuron

Herzog & de Meuron has teamed up with Australian firm Hassell to propose a new barrel-vaulted roof for the station, while Zaha Hadid Architects is working with BVN Architecture on designs for a towering extension with a new boutique hotel.

Flinders Street Station by Hassell + Herzog & de Meuron
Flinders Street Station by Hassell and Herzog & de Meuron

UK firm Grimshaw and Australian studio John Wardle Architects have presented plans to reorientate the station, creating a network of bridges, underpasses, vaults and green space.

Flinders Street Station by NH Architecture
Flinders Street Station by NH Architecture

They face competition from local firm NH Architecture, which plans to create a new landmark by floating a glass lattice roof above the station's additional concourses.

Flinders Street Station by NH Architecture
Flinders Street Station by NH Architecture

The shortlist is completed by ARM Architecture, who propose converting the old building into a school, and a team made up of Colombian architects Eduardo Velasquez, Manuel Pineda and Santiago Medina, with designs to add a garden over the roof.

Flinders Street Station by John Wardle Architects and Grimshaw
Flinders Street Station by John Wardle Architects and Grimshaw

Each of the proposals retains part of the station's historic facade. Completed in 1909, over 50 years after the station opened, its prominent dome and clock tower have become one of the city's most recognisable landmarks.

Flinders Street Station by Eduardo Velasquez, Manuel Pineda and Santiago Medina
Flinders Street Station by Eduardo Velasquez, Manuel Pineda and Santiago Medina

The Victorian Government has launched a website presenting all six proposals and is inviting the public to offer feedback and vote for their favourite. The final decision will be made by a panel of architects and experts, and will be announced on 8 August.

Flinders Street Station by ARM Architecture
Flinders Street Station by ARM Architecture

Another recent design competition called for architects to present a vision for the future of Grand Central Station in New York. See proposals by SOM, Foster + Partners and WXY Architecture »

See more station design »

  • mmmhhh

    Herzog looks amazing! It seems to be a very good building, structurally clever. Plus it is the only one that doesn’t look like a potato.

    • rob

      Publishing the issue in this way with so little background information, it just becomes a sort of intentional name-dropping to keep the readers attached to Dezeen: let’s put another Zaha image – doesn’t matter if the public likes it or not, as long as you are in the picture, you’re still alive.

  • MKK

    You have to wonder if Zaha even visits the sites for these projects. That design is so over-scaled and obtrusive in the surroundings. It is basically an insult to Melbourne.

    • Cor

      I totally agree with you. Zaha’s schemes are more about Zaha than about the site, the city, whatever. Designs like this will dominate anyway, unless the scale of the building is appropriate. In this case it looks like horror.

      • Bernie Bernake

        Absolutely. But neither Zaha nor their particular coterie of clients have any interest in context, sense of place, urbanism, townscape or people – whatever you chose to call it.

        It’s about trophy-ism, the need certain urban administrations feel to collect these one-off pieces of crud from the likes of Hadid, Gehry and Libeskind. It’s not architecture any more, its thin, vain look-at-me oneupmanship.

        The loser in this contest is very likely to be Melbourne and the poor sods who have to use the railway station every day.

  • JMA

    Loving the Zaha design, probably the best of the lot. Also, Dezeen, is it really only a $1million scheme?

    • Floong

      I believe $1 million prizemoney goes to the winner (plus the contract of course). Fingers crossed it’s Herzog and de Meuron’s. Their idea would work perfectly here.

      • That's also now our understanding. Apologies, I've removed the reference to avoid any further confusion. Amy/Dezeen

      • craig

        I don’t think the contact is actually on the table. The State premier has said:

        “Our commitment was to the design competition,” and “we will then enter into negotiations with the winning bidder and taking into account the voice of the people. This a site that we want to develop but it will take some time to put all that in place.”

        The Government has two years to decide whether to proceed with the winning design, which takes home a $500,000 first prize regardless.

        By the way, the winner has already been decided and the public vote has no bearing in the result.

  • myths

    “six international offices”? Of all of the offices only HdM and ZHA could be considered “international” in a specific sense. Grimshaw has had a Melbourne office for many years.

    V, P + M are two people who just finished studying at University of Melbourne (and a third member from Columbia). NH is a Melbourne-based office. ARM is a Melbourne-based office. JWA is a Melbourne-based office. BVN is an Australia-based office.

    You should really acknowledge people correctly; your article fails to articulate that there is a majority of local based architects involved in the competition short-list. At the very least only four, if you’re being loose with definitions, could be considered “International” rather than local.

  • MKK

    You have to wonder if Zaha even visits the sites for these projects. That design is so over-scaled and obtrusive in the surrounds it’s basically an insult to Melbourne.

  • BlueLikeOrange

    H&deM’s scheme looks really interesting. Really hope they could win the project. Fingers crossed.

  • eeon

    Zaha’s building has diminished the existing character of the place. Bad.

  • PeeWeen

    Wow, Hadid does it again. Pure awesomeness! Please do me a favor and vote dislike, like I expect you to!

  • Jordan Mathers

    Zaha needs to realign her designs with reality.

  • Nikolai

    I agree that the Zaha design does not position well into the environment. I really love the flow of the Hassell + Grimshaw design. It sits well into the space while still providing a feature. The positioning of the amphitheatre will connect the centre to South Bank and the gallery area will utilise the un-used West section.

    I wish it had a bit of greenery though as Federation Square has none and the city centre could really use some green public spaces.

    • David

      Carlton Gardens, Fitzroy Gardens, Treasury Gardens, Birrarung Marr Park, Alexandra Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens and Flagstaff Gardens are adjacent, or close to, the city centre. Would green public space on the north side of the Yarra River be the best outcome?

      • Nikolai

        You are correct there are a lot of adjacent greenery. I just know how intense the Australian sun can be and as a central city location the hard nature of Fed Square makes it a pretty brutal place to lounge in during the day.

        I was more referencing the Hassell + H&DM design, which is my favourite, and that it has no green space. The John Wardle has a beautiful green space through the centre. I just believe the whole space is big enough for the Hassell + H&DM to incorporate some greenery.

        Saying that I love that design, the amphitheatre is a great addition, so too gallery spaces and market place.

    • Craig

      I’m a big a fan of greenery in the city and I think there should be shade and some urban greenery in the plan.

      I do not think a major transport hub, with hundreds of thousands of users moving through it every day, is the right place for a park. Especially when you consider there are established large-scale and beautiful parks and gardens literally less than five minutes walk away.

  • Jordan

    Remarkable. Yet another reason why Zaha Hadid is the world’s most celebrated architect.

  • myth

    There aren’t six international teams. NH Architects and ARM are both Melbourne-based architects, as you point out later in the article. Grimshaw also have had a Melbourne-based office for some years, from their involvement in Melbourne’s secondary main train station, Southern Cross Station.

  • Flinder pandhandler

    “Six international teams have been named on the shortlist for the $1 million redesign…” What currency is this?

    • James

      By the looks of some them I think they mean 1 Billion.

  • Vincent

    The proposals by Wardle/Grimshaw and NH compliment rather than compete with Federation Square across the street, which already has a hard surfaced public plaza that is quite vibrant.

    More intimate spaces in both proposals connect well with downtown’s network of laneways filled with bars and cafes and have plausible program elements such as artist studios and galleries that will diversify the spaces more and give commuters more options of what to do with their spare time between getting off work and catching that train home: grabbing a pint with friends or colleagues, reading a book in solitude, or being inspired by cultural displays.

    The public space of Wardle/Grimshaw’s proposal seems softer and less intense than that of Federation Square’s.

  • papou

    Love the H&M one. Soft, smooth and powerful.

  • Ishmael Mokgadi

    Someone should tell Zaha Hadid to stop designing showy buildings that always seek to dominate their surroundings, and often look as if they’re falling.

  • joel

    Zaha’s design looks like a ship that has got stuck in the Yarra River. Far too over-scaled. Congratulations to the Melbourne Uni grads that got shortlisted.

  • myth

    $1m is the prize money for winning. None of the schemes will go ahead, as that was never the plan. There is no money for a real project.

    The hope is that by choosing a winner there will be impetus to do some kind of development to the site. Whether that is remotely similar to any of the schemes is unknown.

  • Arkitekt

    Zaha’s is an eyesore that will dwarf the station. totally contrary to the intention of the competition. H&M is not a bad design, but I don’t see a radical urban transformation.

    The Colombian team have, in my opinion, the best proposal, making the station a gathering place that seamlessly extends Federation Square and breaks the concrete jungle of the CBD. It also puts Flinders as the centre stage of the design, whereas most of the other’s impose their big new building on top of it.

  • Nic

    Zahaha… another uber-slug.

  • Man

    So by offering three or four levels of retail, Zaha created this massive swirly-whirly, all roofed and glazed that is too high to even shelter from sun or rain? Not only is it architecturally challenged, it is also a massive waste of money and resource. How bad can you get?! She’s seriously giving architecture a bad name.

    H&D seems to play with traditional arched roofs of transport terminals and carved / pulled out parts of it to create a series of varied spaces and to break down the scale and the overall length of the building. Seems much more considered and thoughtful.

  • Melbo

    Getting really angry with this Zaha proposal. Seriously WTF!? How could this even get shortlisted. Melbourne is surely one of the best cities in the world. Are they still thinking they need to get more attention or what?? Pretty sure that no one of the pro Zaha commentators here have ever been to the site.

  • MPV

    Thanks for all the great discussion about the competition. If you haven’t already, please visit <a href="” target=”_blank”> to provide your valid feedback. #voteflindersst

    • Andy Macdonald

      Is the comment above that the winner has already been decided and the public vote is a farce actually true?

      • Floong

        That’s pretty much my understanding of it. But see Craig’s comment near the top for more details.

  • Tom

    More images, plans and sections of H&dM’s proposal on their site. Seems to really have potential. Good to see them do a truly public building again too. Pretty sure the nephew of Zaha’s scheme is being built right now here in Antwerp.

  • aaa

    Behold! Another one of Hadid’s alien space ships are about to land into another city.

  • napoleon

    Big thumbs up for HdM!

  • DARc

    Love H&dM as always, and the modesty of their design from the street makes the interior all the more dazzling. The amphitheatre looks inviting but the plaza is so cold and bare. Why not make it a garden oasis to play off all that monastic crinkled and carved white?

  • zee

    Lol. Zaha haters have gathered again :) Go give me hands down! That’s all you can do, while she churns out millions from her designs ;)

    • Man

      I hope you understand that just because someone can make millions, doesn’t mean he or she is doing this world or the field of architecture any good. Your comment is ironically similar to Zaha’s ‘architecture’ – lacks substance or intellect.

  • Alex

    I am not a Zaha hater, many of her buildings are beautiful/challenging/revolutionary, but her submission for this site lacks context or respect, and it is clear her team have never been to Melbourne.

    I personally love the Wardle design, but each of the proposals has ideas of merit. Hope this pressures the government to actually build something!

  • Joa vdW

    I find the Eduardo Velasquez, Manuel Pineda and Santiago Medina design the best – simply because I can imagine it working very well, distributing the streams of passengers over a large area. It is simple, but unlike the other short-listed entries, it will actually cater to the function, not just be flashy. Also, as mentioned already, it doesn’t compete with the aesthetics of the original station.

    I like the arching interior of the Hadid, but its exterior is brutal – another place, sure, but not in the rather crowded centre of Melbourne.

    No idea why the H&dM design is popular – it looks like a market hall placed on a concrete dish. Nothing is worse than large areas of bland stone with no shading, consider the climate and the accumulation of rubbish. Maybe their design shines in the details, but superficially seen it ironically combines “not harmonising with the environment” with blandness.

  • Gaga

    My opinion is that the Flinders Street Station by Eduardo Velasquez, Manuel Pineda and Santiago Medina project is the best architectual solution for overhauling Melbourne’s nineteenth-century railway station at Flinders Street.

    The complex is simple and beautiful and looks like it belong there. However, people from Melbourne have to vote – it is your town :)

  • SJR

    Personally I love Zaha’s design, but I must admit that it doesn’t suit the context very well. It would more than likely take away from the appeal of Fed Square.

    John Wardle’s design has qualities that just make it feel right, like it really belongs there. Plus there’s someone dressed in a panda suit in one of the renders.

  • Architect

    Personally, I like the John Wardle one. It meets most of the criteria and functions required by the brief and probably has the best prospects of private investors financing the project (I don’t think the government will have any cash at all to finance a project of such magnitude). It also probably has the most Melbourne “feel” among all the schemes.

    The Eduardo one looks more like a messed-up uni student’s work with no proper connection or language. A similar idea like this has already been proposed before behind Federation Square few years back, which I think did not go through.

    The Hassell and Herzog & de Meuron one only looks good from the top, but it seems to block any connection whatsoever between the city and the river other than the stage area.

    Very disappointed with both the ARM and NH ones. I wonder how those two schemes are chosen when there were so many other better entries. Pure ugliness and I seriously hope those two are not chosen or else Melbourne would end up having two of the Ugliest Buildings in the World. I would rather have Zaha’s spaceship than those two schemes.

  • As a regular commuter through that whole precinct, not one of the designs answers what is needed here.

    The only answer is back to the drawing board for all finalists who should be given specific briefs.

    Although every one of the designs submitted does have some commendable elements, none of them have come anywhere near to providing Melbourne with a sufficient answer.

    • Jimmy

      I agree, none of them have enhanced the existing area.

  • Paul

    Hadid’s concept is a joke. It doesn’t even fit in with any of the existing buildings. I can only hope the judges make a sensible decision, as none of these work. They all seem rushed and incomplete.

  • Angus

    I think the students’ design is the most appropriate for the site. The green spaces balance the bland roughness of Federation Square and enhance the original station buildings rather than overpower or dominate them. The prize could really give them a springboard onto other things as well.

    I”ll put my money on none of these designs being built though, the government does not have the money for this project. It will sit on the back burner until forgotten about. The government will remember in perhaps 15 years that they wanted to upgrade the station, but by that time the designs will be stale and they’ll return to square one an order another competition to find another design.