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Architect students launch petition for better HS2 designs

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A petition has been launched demanding better designs across the proposed new High Speed 2 network

Architecture students from London Metropolitan University have warned that high-quality design cannot just be used for the ‘best’ parts of the route or as an ‘add on decoration’ and are appealing for signatures in support of its ‘We Demand Beauty’ campaign.

The action by students from Unit 11 DSDHA at The Cass School of Architecture comes in the same week that the Hybrid Bill for the controversial high speed rail link between London and Birmingham passed its second reading in the Commons.

The petition, posted on change.org, warns that the current HS2 proposal is ‘too short-sighted’ and relies on a one size fits all approach that ‘indiscriminately uses generic, over-engineered modules irrespective of local needs.’ ‘It misses the big picture benefits that well-designed infrastructure can bring,’  the document states.

‘HS2, as it stands, looks pre-emptively value-engineered. We cannot let this happen. An absence of design leadership and short sightedness in the process could fail this project of national and regional significance. Too often design is neglected in long-term national planning strategies with disastrous consequences…it has to be at the heart of the project’s modus operandi, from the way it is made to the way it is run.’

At the time of writing, the petition had attracted 34 signatures.

Sean Kitchen, who is studying a professional diploma in architecture - RIBA Part 2, at London Metropolitan University told the AJ the petition was trying to convince people to look at the design of every element from the track side masts, to the viaducts, embankments and everything in between.

‘We want to drive more beauty into the scheme by converting the general public from an opposition view point into a “what can we do with this design opportunity” stance,’ he said. ‘It’s important people take the chance to impact on HS2’s design while we still have the chance before design aspects are finalised.’

Julian Lipscombe, director for Bennetts Associates Architects added that HS2 had ‘missed a trick by not pushing hard on the significant regeneration benefits’.

Lipscombe, whose practice is working up a vision for the regeneration of a proposed HS2 terminal in Manchester, said: ‘So often those involved in rail infrastructure only see themselves as delivering train services rather than being a major driving force in regeneration.’

Earlier this week MPs voted 452 to 41 in favour of the Bill for Phase One of the HS2 scheme. Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said he was confident there would be ‘spades in the ground’ by 2017.



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