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Grimshaw HS2 station designs ‘not good enough’ says MP

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A Birmingham MP has demanded a rethink of Grimshaw’s designs for the city’s Curzon Street rail station, dismissing them as ‘just not good enough’

Labour’s MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, Liam Byrne, said the international practice’s plans for the High Speed 2 hub did not do the city justice.

Grimshaw last year revealed images of its Curzon Street scheme, which will incorporate the Grade I-listed Curzon Station building within its east concourse. A new west concourse will have the ‘ambience of a modern airport terminal’ added the practice.

But Byrne recently said in a post online that he was in favour of ‘sending the designs back to the drawing board’.

Starting off with faint praise for the scheme, he conceded: ‘It’s not a total disaster. But frankly, it is just not good enough. And before the city council signs off the designs, it should demand something that is truly world-class. Whatever the merits of Curzon Street, it is certainly not world-class. Therefore, it is simply not good enough for Birmingham.’

The MP – who supported the overall HS2 project in a Commons debate this month – cited Santiago Calatrava’s Liège-Guillemins station in Belgium, Zaha Hadid’s Nordpark Cable Railway in Austria and Hamburg practice Gerkan, Marg and Partners’ Tianjin West Railway Station in China as benchmark projects.

‘Today’s Curzon Street designs are underwhelming,’ he said. ‘We deserve world-class. And this is not it.’

Byrne called for a Museum of Industrial Revolutions to be incorporated into the station, to showcase the city’s ‘£1 billion civic collection of assets’ – from the first steam engines to ‘the best computer collection in the world’.

An HS2 spokesperson responded: Curzon Street will sit at the heart of Britain’s new high-speed network, and we continue to work with all stakeholders to deliver a station that Birmingham can be proud of. HS2’s stations and design teams, along with our appointed architects, have worked with the local authority, the independent design panel and key stakeholders to produce a design that responds to its local context, aligns with our collective design vision and provides value-for-money for the taxpayer.’ 

Grimshaw declined to comment. 

Curzon Street station is expected to open in 2026 featuring seven high-speed platforms, new public space, and integration with an extended tram network.

System revealed to link HS2 station and airport

Meanwhile, the first images have been revealed of an Arup-designed transport system to ferry passengers from Birmingham’s planned HS2 Interchange Station to the city’s airport.

Project chiefs said the ‘people mover’ would have capacity to take more than 2,000 individuals per hour in each direction between the two hubs.

Vehicles approximately 20m long will depart roughly every three minutes from Arup’s Interchange Station and travel via Birmingham International station and the National Exhibition Centre, arriving at Birmingham Airport in just six minutes.

Tracks will be on a viaduct that will sit 12m off the ground at its highest point.

HS2 is holding public events as it works to finalise the design of the people mover before submitting an application to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. A Design-and-Build contractor will be appointed to develop Arup’s plans for the people mover.

HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston said: ‘HS2 is about connecting the country, and the people mover is another example of how we will do that.’ 

First images of the proposed 'people mover' linking Birmingham Interchange station to Birmingham Airport

First images of the proposed ‘people mover’ linking Birmingham Interchange station to Birmingham Airport

First images of the proposed ‘people mover’ linking Birmingham Interchange station to Birmingham Airport 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Alex Smith

    I'm an architect originally from Birmingham.

    I couldn't disagree more with Liam's comments. This kind of simple paired back approach is exactly what the city needs for it's stations. The new grand central station is a 'world class' disaster because it is trying to stand out rather than integrate into a city that has been ravaged by iconic architecture. Birmingham must re-establish balance. Lets just keep it simple and make large well lit spaces which respect the properties of the materials they are made from. Grimshaw are great at this. I hope those shortlisted for the Birmingham Market competition take a similar approach.

    Alex Smith, [Y/N] Studio

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