Railway’s head of architecture tells AJ120 lunch event in Glasgow that design is a key priority for the £40billion infrastructure project
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HS2 wants to employ small and medium sized practices from all over the country and will use the OJEU procurement system as its existing framework agreements come to an end, it has emerged.
Speaking at the AJ120 lunch in Glasgow last Friday, Laura Kidd, the £40billion rail link’s head of architecture, also said she wanted station designs centred on the needs of the public rather than on grand gestures.
She told the audience, which was largely made up of architects: ‘All our work will be OJEU so you need to keep an eye on OJEU notices because our frameworks are coming to an end.
‘For some of them, we are looking specifically for SMEs rather than large practices and there is all sorts of specialist work that needs to be done. And it’s not a London-centric approach to how we work and who we work with.’
Reiterating comments made by HS2 chairman David Higgins to the AJ in July, Kidd said HS2 wants to promote construction innovation and factory-produced design and added that a standardised approach would be used for much of the route from London to Birmingham.
She said: ‘What we’ve got to define is what’s going to be special, what needs that more contextual approach. This is to do with the significance of the place like the Colne Valley Viaduct [Buckinghamshire]. Other parts of the route will be done with a more standardised design approach.’
Referring to overhead line pylons designs by the likes of Moxon Architects and Danish architect Bystrup, Kidd said: ‘In certain places we may be able to justify this kind of approach’.
Following his interview with the AJ, Higgins was criticised over the summer for his ‘depressing’ view of design but Kidd insisted that HS2 had made quality a major priority and had learned lessons from earlier infrastructure projects such as Crossrail and the London 2012 Olympics.
‘We have a set of key principles which can’t be delivered without excellent design,’ she said.
Kidd also showed images of Santiago Calatrava’s 2009 Liège-Guillemins railway station in Belgium and complained that for all its dramatic architecture, it lacked sufficient amenities such as seating.
‘People have to come first so don’t show me these wonderful designs where people aren’t considered’ she said.
She also said that HS2 remains keen to extend the route of HS2 in later phases to Leeds and Manchester and then on to Glasgow and Edinburgh.