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Interchangeable ideas

technical & practice

The transport industry's key players will be out in force later this month for this year's Interchange conference

It's that time again when the Interchange roadshow opens its doors, this year at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre on London's South Bank on 25-26 November.

Since its inception in 2000, as a response to the government's White Paper where practitioners in the transport industries were invited to grab a piece of the £180 billion spend, it has earned a reputation as a useful venue to exchange ideas and to identify some of the key trends and players in the transport market.

Obviously, it was not so clear in those salad days of trust in the political process, that the so-called £180 billion government giveaway was nothing of the sort. It comprised almost 50 per cent of private capital investment, and so those who thought it was going to be grant-funded heaven - a licence to make money - were in for a rude awakening. Even the sure-fire belief that private capital would flow into the transport infrastructure coffers had not yet reckoned on the debacles of the London Underground and the decommissioning of Railtrack - taken into administration just after the first Interchange conference. Way back then, there was still a naive belief that money, PFI contracts and infrastructure would all grow under the new dawn of the transport superministry.

Now we hear that Crossrail may come off the rails again. So, after a useful start, based on a pragmatic idea, the Interchange organisers must have thought that events were conspiring against them.

However, now in its third year, Interchange is as big and brash as ever and, with London mayoral candidate Steven Norris at the helm, it is heralded as 'an opportunity to meet with key players in the integrated transport industry'.

Wide gauge One of the dilemmas of the event is that the focus on interchanges is broad; reflecting that interchanges, in the eyes of the organisers, are viewed as much as 'processes' as they are 'products'. The concept of an interchange conveys as much about a service provider as it does about a piece of technology. However, sometimes the reality of an interchange as a physical environment - a piece of architecture; a physical thing - gets marginalised. But, after all, this is an integrated event exploring the benefits of integrated transport, services, technological infrastructure as well as design, and so it is not surprising that many interpretations and business expectations need to be fulfilled.

In its first year, the winner of the imaginatively titled Large Project of the Year Award went to the Croydon Tramlink.No architect was involved in the prize acceptance. The second year, however, the Small Urban Interchange Project of the Year was won by Eccles Bus Station, designed by EGS Design.

This year, quite a few architects are entered and stand a chance against the engineering and technology/service providers. Even the City of Durham's congestion charging scheme has been put forward; a scheme that has dramatically reduced the three cars per minute that previously crawled up the hill to the cathedral, to about three cars every 10 minutes.

Hubba, hubba One of the schemes that is fighting architecture's corner is Manchester Airport's Ground Transport Interchange - now known as 'The Station' or '4M Offices'. Designed by Aedas Architects' Manchester office, under project architect Dawn Wadsworth, this £60 million project is described as the 'first truly multi-modal transport interchange to be built in the UK accommodating heavy and light rail, bus depot, coach services and taxi rank'. Completed in July, it was conceived as a catalyst to encourage and cater for growth in public transport to meet the anticipated rise in air traffic. As architecture and the services that it is designed to facilitate are inextricably linked, Aedas and the client, Manchester Airport, want 25 per cent of all passenger trips to the airport to be by public transport; that is, theoretically, 10 million passenger trips by 2015. In the same period the staff is anticipated to rise from 17,000 to 35,000, and reducing their reliance on private cars was also a significant progenitor of the brief.

The project comprises a new 900m 2bus and coach station, a tram tunnel, combined heavy rail and Metrolink island platform, 1,200m 2concourse with the capacity for future incorporation of baggage handling facilities, 8,100m 2of commercial office space above the concourse, retail and catering, and multi-modal ticketing. Links to all three terminals are by what is euphemistically called a 'Skylink', or 'travelator-assisted aerial walkway system' (otherwise known as a bridge-cum-corridor).

The hub of the building is the circulation space - primarily vertical circulation - enclosed in an 'Arctic Blue' structural glass envelope supported by an exposed steel frame.

Internally, suspended monitor screens will display real-time travel information as well as advertising and popular programming. The patinated copper appearance is, in fact, powdercoated aluminium cladding panels, stripped to match copper sheet sizes.

The second distinct area of the building is the six-storey steel-framed office development clad in Corus' Duotone PVF2-coated aluminium panels - which look silver or blue, depending on the light. Slimdeck has been used to maximise the number of floorplates that can be constructed in the restricted height required for airport structures situated near the flight path.

The completed structure is intended to set the scene for a £1 billion development programme of improvements to the terminal buildings and aircraft standing areas.

Truly, madly, Burnley A scheme on the Small Urban Interchange shortlist is the Burnley Bus Station rebuild, which includes a departure concourse and canopies.

Designed by Strzala Associates and commissioned by Burnley Borough Council, the £2.5 million scheme started on site in October 2001 and was completed in August this year.

The project brief demanded that the building be visually appealing 24 hours a day; that it include state-ofthe-art facilities; and that it provide a gateway to the town centre. Further to this, the scheme includes an upgrade of the existing facilities to include 18 bus bays with automatic door opening and concourse. The existing bus station remained in operation throughout the works. The shortlisted scheme has been considered for its success in satisfying the brief and for providing a 'bold futuristic design for an area that has suffered more than its fair share of deprivation'. The architect says that 'the building is meant to represent an outward-looking approach, rather than insular and insecure'.

Structural glazing on three sides, complemented with stack-bonded brickwork, encloses a retail unit, company and public facilities, cafe, offices, and a tourist information centre. A Kalzip standing-seam roof is held on polyester powdercoated aluminium aerofoil sections.

For more information visit the www. strzalaassociates. co. uk website.

At the time of going to press, the winners of the awards have been chosen but not made public. Any mention of a particular scheme within this article does not convey its standing in the judges'considerations.For tickets and information on other schemes visit www. interchangeplus. com.Additional discussion on the future of mobility and the city will take place at the Old Theatre, LSE Cities Programme, on 6 December.For more details visit www. transportresearch. org. uk/ FutureCities, or tel 020 7505 6711.

MANCHESTER AIRPORT TEAM CLIENT Manchester Airports Development: Aslam Khan ARCHITECT Aedas Architects: David Kingdom, Dawn Wadsworth PROJECT MANAGER, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Mott MacDonald BUILDING SERVICES ENGINEER Hoare Lea COST CONSULTANT Bucknall Austin BURNLEY BUS STATION CLIENT Burnley Borough Council ARCHITECT Strzala Associates ENGINEER ROC Consulting Engineers CONTRACTOR John Turner & Sons QUANTITY SURVEYOR Cyril Sweett SERVICES Barratt Electrical & Mechanical

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