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Author Topic: NR/RIBA competiton "Re-Imagining Railway Stations: Connecting Communities"  (Read 825 times)
stuving
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« on: July 15, 2020, 02:51:38 pm »

You may remember a joint Network Rail and RIBA» (Royal Institute of British Architects - about) competition to design station footbridges. (I wonder - did the results ever get built for real?) They have now announced a similar competition for smaller stations:
Quote
Re-Imagining Railway Stations: Connecting Communities

International competition to shape the future of Britain’s railway stations.
    (closing date) 15 September 2020, 14:00

The competition will provide architects, engineers and designers the chance to improve the travel experience for the millions of passengers who use Britain’s railway, and leave a lasting legacy on station design.

It asks designers to reimagine small to medium-sized stations – which make up 80% of all those on Britain’s railway – so they can better serve the needs of both passengers and their local communities.

The competition encourages entries which stimulate creativity and address the changing character of our society.

In developing proposals, entrants are encouraged to consider how future stations can be sustainable and deliver outstanding value, whilst considering the impact on the environment to achieve net zero emissions to leave a positive legacy for future generations.

Anthony Dewar, Head of Buildings and Architecture at Network Rail, said:

“Fostering creativity and developing an outward-looking, collaborative culture is a key priority for Network Rail, so I’m delighted we are hosting this competition, which gives designers a unique opportunity to leave a lasting legacy on our railway and improve the journeys of millions of passengers through quality design.

“Our ambition is to raise the quality of design across the whole rail network as well as responding to the evolving role of infrastructure within communities.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming creative and forward-thinking designs which will help us better serve the communities and passengers who rely on our railway.”

Across Britain, there are more than 2,000 small-to-medium stations which vary greatly in terms of design quality and amenities. By improving the overall quality of stations, they can better serve their communities, whilst accommodating potential enhancements to the existing and future passenger experience through good design. Designs should be considered for the adaption of existing stations to better meet passenger requirements, or new-build stations to accommodate the projected increase in demand for rail travel.

The competition is open internationally to individuals and teams from both small and large organisations from the design, built environment and manufacturing industries.

The competition will be organised in three phases, with the first phase involving the anonymous submission of design proposals. Up to six entrants will be invited to phase two each receiving an honoraria of £20,000 + VAT (Value Added Tax). In the final phase, up to three entrants will be invited to enter into a services contract to develop their design solutions further with a contract sum of up to £250,000 awarded to each (subject to negotiation).

There's a lot more detail on the competition's own website.

So prepare yourselves for some innovative and imaginative ...  vocabulary.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2020, 03:26:09 pm »

John Betjamin is probably getting ready to turn in his grave...
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stuving
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2020, 04:25:05 pm »

There are several supporting documents on or linked from the competition web site, including two picture books by photographer Luke O'Donovan. The one done for this competition, "HUB Making places for people and trains", is described as:
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A study of standardised railway stations around Britain, commissioned by Network Rail. Foreword Sir Simon Jenkins Text Dr David Lawrence Original Photography Luke O'Donovan Graphic Design Alex Holden

The second, also on 'issuu', was done for the previous competition: "LINK - A study of Network Rail footbridges"
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A photographic study of 100 footbridges on the British railway Network. Photography and captions Luke O'Donovan Introduction David Lawrence Graphic Design Alex Holden Commissioned by Network Rail, 2019 lukeodonovan.co.uk

I suspect the second, in particular, will lead several of the professional photographers manqués of this forum to think "I wish I'd got that gig".

Incidentally, the first book says at the back "This publication is the first to use Network Rail's new font named Rail Alphabet 2. ..." I'd not heard about that, and can't find anything elsewhere.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2020, 06:29:51 pm »

There is another (better?) reason to run a competition like this, namely to see if someone can come up with a workable modular design that can be rolled out for many projects to (hopefully) reduce the enormous cost of projects in future.  It would though mean the planning and architecture establishments changing some of their entrenched attitudes to building design and project delivery.
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stuving
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« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2020, 12:23:41 pm »

The five winners of the first stage, which was selection of a shortlist, have been announced. At least, via the press they have - I can see nothing in the competition's own web site nor its sponsors'. This is from Infrastructure Intelligence
Quote
Network Rail and RIBA» (Royal Institute of British Architects - about) Competitions have revealed the names of the five design practices selected to compete in the next phase of their competition to shape the future of Britain?s railway stations.

Entrants to the competition were asked to reimagine small to medium-sized stations, which make up 80% of all those on Britain?s railway. More than 200 submissions were received, from designers based in 34 different countries. Five will go through to the next stage (listed in alphabetical order):

  •     ATKINS, London with PRD Ltd;
  •     Miguel Angel Carrasco Arquitetura, Rio de Janeiro;
  •     Pascall+Watson, London;
  •     7N Architects, Edinburgh;
  •     WORKSHOP Architecture, Toronto.

The selected practices will now develop their proposals for final judging in February 2021. At the end of that process, up to three will be chosen to be taken forward for development.

Anthony Dewar, head of buildings and architecture at Network Rail, said: ?At the launch of the competition we were hoping to receive some creative and forward-thinking designs and my fellow judging panellists and I were happily inundated with submissions that met that brief. It was a tough decision to narrow the field down to just a handful to go through to the next stage, but we were particularly impressed and intrigued by the concept proposals put forward by the selected five practices.

?We look forward to seeing how they will develop their ideas to create design solutions which will help Network Rail to improve the experience of both the communities and passengers it serves.?

PS: I've now located the official announcement from Network Rail. They sneakily didn't use the word "shortlist" at all.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2020, 05:33:37 pm by stuving » Logged
stuving
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2021, 01:18:51 pm »

And the overall winner is ... 7N Architects of Edinburgh (with ARUP, Gardiner & Theobald and Lisa MacKenzie Consultancy). I don't suppose this is going to get lot of exposure at the moment, due to the amount of competition (in another sense) from railway news. However, apparently this is what our smaller stations are going to look like, according to ... well, who? It was judged by a panel, but I can't find its membership listed anywhere. So for now, thait's NR» (Network Rail - home page)/RIBA» (Royal Institute of British Architects - about).


Quote
The Evaluation Panel commended the edited-down, elemental form of 7N Architects’ scheme, which by modest means provided shelter to the platform, a clear civic presence, and a simple direct connection with the local community and landscape. The approach went back to basics and deconstructed the idea of what constituted small to medium-sized railway stations and had a strong, simple under-lying logic.

In the design aesthetic, the Panel thought that 7N Architects had achieved a good balance of national brand versus local identity. A clear delineation was envisaged in which the trackside elements would provide a consistent national architectural language, with landside elements flexing to reflect local identity and community.

Quote
Panel members thought the design had been cleverly pared back to create an open and flexible system which, with minimum component parts, would transform people’s experience of the station. Some elements will require development at the next stage to ensure the widest possible applicability.

The Evaluation Panel felt the developed design concept had distilled a hugely complex problem to a simple open system, with the potential to both depict a confident modern transport system and strengthen connection with the communities in which the railway stations are embedded.


This was all based on a pretty detailed design brief. There's more to the phase 2 submissions than the example above; see the competition's web site.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2021, 12:09:30 pm »

At the risk of sounding like a "nay-sayer", this wet morning has given me an opportunity to look at the pictures of the winning entry a little more closely.

There are a few points that strike me, both from the point of view of a passenger and also as someone who has spent more of his life than he would have liked stuck on stations and ended up looking around at his surroundings and noticing things that could be done better.

1 - Where's the signage? It looks like there are a couple of old fashioned timetable posters by the entrance and that's it, even though the designer has gone into a great deal of graphic detail, right down to desks in adjoining buildings. There appears to be no signage of any description in the line of sight of passengers on the platform, although there might be something behind on the column sides. There also appears to be no directional signage for exits, etc.

2 - Shelter (or lack of it) - even those artist's impression passengers look cold and miserable! While it is clearly better than some of our current small stations with open platforms and not a lot else, there's little protection from the wind (or wind blown rain and snow) and high roofs whose footprint of shelter will be smaller. How about some back walls? The waiting rooms look small too (did these guys have a hand in the Reading remodelling?), How long will those gate lines shown on the third picture last in their relatively exposed location? 

3 - Rainwater goods (I think that's the industry terms for gutters. downpipes etc). There doesn't seem to be any. How will all the water be drained off those flat roofs? Will it end up like Guildford with convoluted pipe runs that frequently fail, running back from the roof edge underneath it to the roof supports, then down to under-platform drains that will be difficult to access for clearance and maintenance?

4 - Use of wood for the structure. Again a durability issue, especially if not regularly treated in the way that regrettably a lot of railway buildings tend to get neglected (remember the last Wokingham Station buildings?). They will also suffer from the water spilling regularly out of the compromised rainwater disposal system as referred to above.

5 - Those clear roofs - I understand the idea of making it light and airy, but after a few years it will be covered with algae and pigeon poo. Something else for the maintenance budget.

Having a look at Network Rail's design principles referred to in the brief, I see that principle 2 is "The needs of passengers are at the heart of everything we do", and is followed by the statement "Real-time information, clearer way-finding and better waiting areas are just some of the passenger benefits we're delivering in partnership with train operators."  It looks like this has been overlooked by those involved with this competition. Principle 9 is "It’s our job to look after the thousands of structures across our network." (That's a statement of the obvious NR» (Network Rail - home page), not a principle!), but the explanatory text following includes this statement -"Innovative solutions can improve
efficiency and safety during construction and provide long lasting low maintenance assets."  I know it's easy to knock the efforts of architects but again this does not seem to fulfil the requirements adequately. Most of the remaining principles are about community involvement, inclusivity and respecting heritage.

It seems to me that this exercise has been a missed opportunity. Many of the matters covered by the principles will have to be addressed on a site-by-site basis, ensuring that within the constraints of each station site the opportunity for connectivity with other modes of transport, accessibility, fitting in with the surrounding area and the like can be accommodated. What surely we need to concentrate on is producing a set of standard modular designs for buildings, canopies, seats, signage, footbridges and so on that are low maintenance, durable, easy to use and provide good comfort and shelter to passengers. I may be naive (although my views have been partly shaped by many discussions with an architect who sat on RIBA» (Royal Institute of British Architects - about) committees, who used to travel on my line, and who was strongly of the view that both his profession and those who commissioned their work were hopeless at dealing with "whole life" issues when designing new buildings), but shouldn't this be the first step in cutting the cost of procurement and the speed of delivery, while delivering a better passenger experience?
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