Last night saw an unprecedented architectural event take place in small studio, off a quiet Fitzroy street. The event, entitled Long List, was a private gallery function celebrating the non-shortlisted Flinders Street Station Design Competition entries. Rebellious architectural activity is rare in the current litigious and politically correct era. This event however, proved that self organized activism within the profession is not extinct. With the shortlisted architectural competition ongoing, the non selected designs are currently embargoed from public view. To make matters worse no public exhibition of all stage 1 submissions is likely to happen, even upon completion of the competition in mid 2013. To ensure an important learning opportunity was not lost to the profession, the Long List private event was born.
Hosted at Sibling Studio, the event was very much a casual yet engaging affair, with lively informal discussion amongst the hanging boards and bubble wrap shroud. The only formalities were brief speeches by event organiser Juliet Moore and Timothy Moore followed by a presentation by Andrew Burns on his successful entries into other recent architectural competitions. His presentation and a follow up conversation have reinforced my resolve to enter in future (but possibly smaller) competitions.
There were approximately 30 schemes presented from both the well known and the obscure. For me some of the most interesting schemes dealt with the following elements
- Canopies over sections of the station one of which encompassed the entire site
- A tower at the western end of the site, similar in height and expression to Eureka tower. This created an interesting relationship between the two towers with the Yarra in between.
- Considering the existing administration building to be part of a fractured courtyard.
Consistent throughout the boards were schemes that were grappling with the enormous scale of the site. A large number chose to express a single overall gesture which encompassed the entire site. Others broke the site up into smaller components each with their own expression. The driving element of this decision often linked back to how the architects saw the site in relation to the existing Hoddle grid. Whichever approach was adopted, the difficult task of relating the design back to a human scale was one done with varying degrees of success.
Another key aspect was how to address the river frontage. A particular favorite in this regard featured a green embankment along the river which cleverly morphed upwards into a canopy over the platforms. The embankment embedded two levels of pedestrian access which would provide activation and spectacular views along the length of the Yarra.
For me a really interesting contrast was that between Elenberg Fraser and Design Inc. Both of these large architecture firms presented fantastic work, however the presentation styles could not have been more different. Elenberg Fraser presented one of the most impressive photorealistic cad renderings on view, whilst Design Inc comprised three boards of beautiful crafted hand sketches.
Another aspect for contrast was that between the large groups and collaborations and the small groups and individuals. To my surprise the gulf was not as far as I had expected and in many cases it was not until you read the name at the bottom that the size of the team was apparent.
A valuable experience
The importance of this event should not be understated. It provided a valuable opportunity to close the circle for the architects who have spent many hundreds of hours designing and preparing schemes. It provided the opportunity for feedback from peers and co-recognition of the enormity of what has been achieved. It is also evidence of the passion and commitment that architects have for their work.
A big thank-you to Juliet Moore, Sibling, Creffield Digital Print and everyone involved behind the scenes.
Architecture is for everyone