Zaha Hadid Wants $1 Million Melbourne Station Design Prize

Zaha Hadid Wants $1 Million Melbourne Station Design Prize
(Source: Major Projects Victoria)

“Starchitect” Zaha Hadid is one of five architects vying for a $1 million prize pool being offered by the Victorian Government as part of an international design competition to help rejuvenate and restore Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station.

Easily the most recognised female architect in the world, Zaha Hadid has successfully joined forces with BVN, easily one of Australia’s most recognised architecture studios, to win a shortlisted place in the Flinders Street Station International Design Competition. Details have yet to be released regarding their design, but it is safe to say that it will be one of the most popular entries.

“This competition has always been about finding the best local and international talent to re-invigorate Melbourne’s iconic Flinders Street Station precinct and looking at this shortlist I think we’ve managed to do that,” said Minister for Major Projects Dr Denis Napthine.

“The short list covers some of the world’s best architects such as Hassell + Herzog & De Meuron and Zaha Hadid, renowned local firms Ashton Raggatt McDougall and NH Archtiecture and emerging talents Eduardo Velasquez, Manuel Pineda and Santiago Medina from Columbia.

“Between them, this group is responsible for some of Melbourne and the world’s most renowned buildings including Hamer Hall, Beijing’s National Stadium used in the 2008 Olympics and Rome’s Museum of XXI Century Arts,” Dr. Napthine said.

According to the Zaha Hadid/BVN Architecture competition statement: “Our design approach will be geared towards the articulation of movement, accessibility and integration of the station with its surroundings. Heritage elements of Flinders Station will be sensitively combined with a dynamic mix of new civic spaces helping enhance Melbourne’s position as one of the world’s most creative and liveable cities.”

The competition  has not been without controversy thanks to several disgruntled architects who didn't like the fact that their non-shortlisted designs were not publicised by competition organisers. As a result of the ill feeling, an exhibition of entries that were not selected for the second stage of the competition was organised by Melbourne architecture firm Edwards Moore and hosted by Melbourne design collective SIBLING.  According to the Edwards Moore website, “The exhibition was designed so as to create a concentrated viewing area shrouded by a translucent curtain, referencing the secrecy associated with the competition process.”

According to Fairfax, details of submitted designs are so profoundly classified that finalists were even sent letters warning them not to attend the 22 November 2012 event - not even as observers. A spokesman for Major Projects Victoria told Fairfax that it was striving to run a competition that held to the highest levels of integrity and having finalists see unsuccessful designs might lead to future wrangling over intellectual property.

The shortlisted entrants will be given until 4 July 2013 to develop their ideas and attend various technical briefings and workshops. Following this, final designs will be put on public display for the people’s choice voting while the competition jury meets again to select a winner.

The six competition finalists are:

Ashton Raggatt McDougall (Melbourne)
John Wardle Architects + Grimshaw (Australia and UK)
HASSELL + Herzog & de Meuron (Melbourne and Switzerland)
NH Architecture (Melbourne)
Eduardo Velasquez + Manuel Pineda + Santiago Medina (Columbia via University of Melbourne)
Zaha Hadid Architecture & BVN Architecture (UK and Melbourne)