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Exclusive: Winner announced in Network Rail footbridge contest

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Danish practice Gottlieb Paludan Architects has won the Network Rail contest to rethink pedestrian footbridges across its 40,000ha estate

Working with Czech engineer Strasky, Husty and Partners, the Copenhagen-based outfit’s ‘bold, elegant and uncluttered’ designed was chosen ahead of more than 120 entries from 19 countries in the RIBA-organised competition.

The winning team received £20,000, with its concept added to Network Rails’ pattern book of station footbridge designs.  

The judges also awarded a high commendation to the entry by Hawkins\Brown with WSP.

The single-stage anonymous ideas contest sought innovative proposals for a standardised, fully accessible crossing which could be used across the 32,000km network.

The brief called for solutions that drew on the existing ’railway heritage and [would] be suitable for stations, rights of way, and level crossings’.

Network Rail’s head of buildings and architecture Anthony Dewar said he had been ’overwhelmed’ by the response to the competition, adding: ‘As part of [our] commitment to make the railway more inclusive and fit for today’s needs through good design, the competition winner will be added to our new catalogue of improved station footbridge designs, and we are in discussions to agree how this idea can be fully realised.’

According to the jury, Gottlieb Paludan’s design ‘presented a bridge with a more resolved design aesthetic, which most convincingly addressed the wide range of practical challenges while proposing a bold, elegant and uncluttered response that would create an uplifting experience to suit many contexts.’

Meanwhile Hawkins\Brown’s concept for a modular ‘kit of parts’ using simple prefabricated, clip-on elements depending on context was hailed as a ‘social engine focused on people and place’.

Evaluation panel member Kay Hughes, founder of competitions consultancy Khaa added: ‘The entries for this competition highlight how design can improve people’s day-to-day travel experience, through pragmatic, beautiful and efficient solutions.

‘It also demonstrates the appetite and ability of the design profession to improve national infrastructure.’

Network Rail, an arm’s-length public body with responsibility for the maintenance and upgrading of the country’s railway network, is mid-way through a £38 billion investment programme which will increase electrification and capacity on many routes.

Knight Architects and Arup won a separate contest for a new generic station footbridge system – intended for an earlier, separate workstream – via Network Rail’s Multi-Functional Design Framework in October. 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • The images clearly show the 'buildability' of Hawkins\Brown's proposal with WSP, which looks rather more than just 'a social engine focused on people and place' in that it's designed for ease of construction.
    This is absolutely critical for any footbridge over a railway, to minimise the disruption to train services (currently a sore point for many people), but we're none the wiser as to how the winning proposal would be built.

    And what was the competition won by Knight Architects and Arup for a 'new generic station footbridge system - intended for an earlier, separate workstream'? An example of network Rail duplicating expense and design effort?

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  • MacKenzie Architects

    I say good winner, good climbable stairs and an interesting aesthetic vocabulary that could improve a whole load of shabby stations, and maybe embarrass Network Rail into tidying up their stations and out buildings.
    The subtle perspective effect would look great on a straight mile of railway lines.
    I would say eminently buildable too.

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