The pointlessness of voting in the Flinders Street Station design competition

Yesterdays big media announcement was the revealing of the six shortlisted designs for the redevelopment of Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station, and the start of voting for the People’s Choice Award. But what will the process actually deliver?

Biggest. Cliché. Ever.

The government media release has the following to say:

“From today everyone can inspect the designs and cast their vote. I encourage all Victorians to participate and I think they will be excited by what they see,” Dr Napthine said.

And the reason for the voting?

Minister for Major Projects David Hodgett said the People’s Choice Award voting was a unique opportunity for people to get involved in the design competition.

“We want people to think about all aspects of the designs – this is more than a beauty contest,” Mr Hodgett said.

“The public will see the same plans, images, videos and material that have been provided to competition jury so they can make an informed decision for the People’s Choice Award.

“This award is also about hearing what the community thinks is important for Flinders Street. Feedback gathered through the voting will be used to develop and refine future plans for the station.

The People’s Choice Award runs from Tuesday 23 July until Monday 5 August.

But the truth regarding the selection process is actually found in the ‘Competition Conditions’ document for the Flinders Street Station Design Competition:

3.1 Summary

The Competition is a two stage international design competition. Registrants are encouraged to undertake a broad exploration of design concepts in Stage 1 (Stage 1 Submissions). A maximum of six designs will be selected by the Jury to progress to Stage 2, where the design concepts will be more fully developed (Stage 2 Submission).

Stage 1 of the Competition is open to all legal entities. Once registered, Registrants may submit an initial design. Those who do are Competitors. A maximum of six Competitors will be short-listed by the Jury to participate in Stage 2 of the Competition.

At the end of Stage 2, the winning design will be selected by the Jury. The Jury will also select second and third placed designs. The State has allocated a prize pool for the Competition of $1 million. The prize pool will be distributed in accordance with clause 3.13.

If the State determines to proceed with the Project, the State will enter into the
Contract (the Contract) with the Winner in accordance with clauses 4.2 and 7.4.

Detail about the People’s Choice Award comes later:

3.4 People’s Choice Award

It is intended that the Shortlisted Competitors’ Stage 2 Submissions will be exhibited online and members of the Victorian public will be able to vote on a one vote per person basis for the purpose of determining the people’s choice award (People’s Choice Award).

It is intended that the Stage 2 Submissions exhibited online for the purpose of the People’s Choice Award will be in the same form, and include the same information (other than the information in relation to the fee proposal which will not be disclosed), as the Stage 2 Submissions submitted to the Jury for evaluation.

The People’s Choice Award voting process is entirely separate to the Jury selection process. The People’s Choice Award is intended to be announced at the same time as the Jury’s announcement of the winning design. The Jury will not be made aware of the People’s Choice Award design prior to the announcement of the Jury’s prizes.

But the true pointlessness of the public vote is revealed by this line:

The People’s Choice Award design will not be entitled to any prize, honoraria or other payment.

So vote all you want – the government doesn’t give a crap about what the answer is, and the “winner” doesn’t even take home a prize!

General filth on the walls: Elizabeth Street Subway

Further reading

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4 Responses to “The pointlessness of voting in the Flinders Street Station design competition”

  1. enno says:

    Not only that, their website does not work properly with firefox, and they seem to expect you to vote on each entry before you have seen all the others.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I’ve seen a number of related complaints on Twitter and Reddit – people enter their comments for each entry on the voting form, only for the website to lose it all!

  2. Reuben says:

    Let’s not forget, Napthine is on the record for saying any funding commitment to an upgrade probably won’t get underway ’till about a decade. How relevant/remembered will these designs be then?

    Zaha Hadid’s is awful too.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Politicians love making promises they’ll never have to deliver – they get to look like they’re doing something, without having to commit to it!

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