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a life in architecture - robert thorne

For architecture and engineering historian Robert Thorne, the Zurich Stadelhofen station (above) is a winner. Originally built in the 19th century, it was redeveloped by Santiago Calatrava in the 1980s. For Thorne, who has a particular interest in station design and has worked on several London stations - St Pancras, Paddington, Liverpool Street - it is an example of a station that really works, although he admits it is not a terminus.

'It is brilliantly linked in to its surroundings, ' he says. 'You can walk straight onto the platform from the street and the tram stop.

Then you can walk over it on a quite astonishing Calatrava-esque bridge which leads into the suburb behind, or you can pass under it through an extraordinary arcaded undercroft where the station shops are located. Calatrava was involved in the design of the staircases and the escalators, and, above all, the platform canopies. They are very organic and sculptural and have this real feeling of being engineering vertebrae.

'The station itself is on a curve and has an organic feel to it, quite unlike the minimalist parallelogram of a lot of standard railway and airport architecture. It sits alongside the original railway booking office and the stationmaster's house, a little Italianate box facing onto a square where the trams stop - an interesting example of keeping the very best element of the original and then rebuilding the station behind as this wonderful circulation space for the city. It is an engineering accomplishment and an immense joy.'

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