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Terry Farrell & Partners' Asian megastations

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Terry Farrell & Partners’ railway stations exemplify the increasing demand for British design and planning expertise in Asia

Given the shortage of large-scale projects in Britain, many AJ100 practices are working overseas (AJ Leader 23.09.2010) in locations where there is demand for their specialist expertise. Terry Farrell & Partners’ infrastructure planning and urban design projects in Asia are a good example.

Whether you look at them from a relativist or a Eurocentric perspective, many Asian cities are planning disaster areas. Although architects can thrive in laissez-faire environments, key aspects of urban design - in particular infrastructure planning - require careful thought if they are to keep up with growth. Intelligent and imaginative planning is what distinguishes Singapore from gridlocked Bangkok. Over the past 18 years, Terry Farrell & Partners has applied its urban design expertise to infrastructure planning, designing a large railway-station projects in Asia, dubbed ‘megastations’.

Farrell’s director Stefan Krummeck regards the infrastructure of roads, transit systems and public space as a framework for cities. ‘By its nature, a city is a diverse and ever-changing entity’, he says. ‘It is constantly being made and remade, built and torn down, repaired, replaced, converted and recycled.’ In this dynamic process it is the infrastructure that endures, while the individual buildings change to suit evolving needs.

In the 1950s and 60s, with the growth of air travel, there was a decline in the popularity of long distance railway travel which was accompanied by a deterioration in the environments and locales of large railway stations. But the train has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in recent years and is often regarded as a more convenient, economical and sustainable alternative that works particularly well if there are good connections to metro services. Because railway stations, unlike airports, can be located within the urban fabric, they are opportunities to regenerate, develop and repair urban districts and create new focal points and gateways as well as to improve transportation links. Also, railway infrastructure projects are often seen as a way of stimulating the economy.

Europe had a head-start in railway infrastructure design. As a building type, the large urban railway station can be traced back to 19th-century Britain, where outstanding examples such as Paddington, opened in 1838, were developed by accomplished engineers, such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and were then emulated throughout Europe. Designers and clients were keenly aware of their potential as symbols, although it is sometimes said that vast cathedral-like sheds over track areas were a luxury, because trains do not need to be sheltered from the rain and low level canopies over platforms provide sufficient coverage for passengers.

Krummeck identifies different types of development strategy in Farrell’s megastation projects. ‘In China they opted to segregate development and station and the primary objectives were flexibility and large open-floor plates.’ At Beijing South Station, one of four major rail stations serving China’s new high-speed rail network, permeability and a central landscaped pedestrian spine connect the North Park and the South Park communities, improving the public realm and enhancing the civic character of the area to provide a catalyst for new development to the surrounding urban areas. Simple, balanced and unifying forms provide an integral architectural solution to complex functional and contextual requirements of this type of site.

But Farrell’s work in Hong Kong and India demonstrates that the integration of railway projects with commercial property is gaining in importance. Many rail operators understand the value of land reserves within cities and are starting to capitalise on the commercial opportunities. ‘Mixed-use developments help to finance railway projects and result in new models for sustainable living and working in the city’, says Krummeck. Farrell’s Kowloon ‘transport super city’ in Hong Kong and its New Delhi Railway station project promote symbioses between development and station.

In Hong Kong, the property development above and adjacent to the station helps to finance the railway system. Kowloon Station, completed in 1998, provides a passenger interchange between two separate rail lines, airport check-in, coach, bus, and other road transport. Each element is linked by a central concourse which is, in turn, linked by a major atrium to the Union Square air rights development above. It is one of the world’s largest station infrastructure developments, with over one million square metres of mixed-use space.

Farrell’s New Delhi station masterplan project covers 86 hectares and proposes to replace existing facilities and repair the city fabric, creating a new city centre. Farrell proposed a convenient, rational station, minimising the overlap of pedestrian flow. Because escalators are unfamiliar to many, travelators are proposed where feasible, and to avoid the practice of carting parcels across tracks, Farrell has proposed an underground system. There were, however, concerns about the amount of road traffic this would generate.

A key move in these designs has been the adoption of the airport model that separates departure and arrival zones. This is a new model in railway station design, which responds to the need to accommodate large numbers of passengers, reduce cross-flow and assist with wayfinding.

Asia’s scrap-and-build practices are at odds with patterns of property ownership and tenancy in Western Europe, which in themselves have an impact on our cultural values. They also challenge our models of sustainability. Both approaches involve a different type of pragmatism. It would be hubristic to assume that we have all the answers, but there is clearly a demand in Asian cities for British expertise and experience in sustainable and integrated infrastructure design.

Beijing South Station - a replacement gateway

This is a fully integrated multi-modal transportation hub, serving as gateway to the capital and a vital link in China’s new high-speed intercity rail network. A major urban building and masterplan, it is one of the largest contemporary railway stations in the world (Beijing West is the largest), designed for a turnover of 220,000 passengers a day, and 80 million per year by 2030. It replaces the old Beijing South Station, opened in 1897, half a kilometre away. A new model in railway station design was developed to accommodate these vast numbers, integrating the multimodal transport interchange facility with a vertical segregation strategy designed for direct, convenient and highly efficient passenger traffic flows. It opened in time for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Location Beijing, China
Architect Terry Farrell & Partners and Third Railway Survey and Design Institute Group (TSDI)
Client Ministry of Railways, China
Structural, services and acoustic engineer TSDI and Ove Arup & Partners
Pedestrian and traffic Engineer TSDI and Atkins China
Construction period December 2005-August 2008
GFA 217,446 m²
Cost RMB 3 billion (£289,423,800)

Guangzhou South Station - a ‘garden station’

Located at heart of the Pearl River Delta region, lying between the cities of Guangzhou and Foshan, forms a comprehensive transport hub serving a catchment area exceeding 300 million people. It is built on a greenfield site and conceived as ‘garden station’, with two landscaped urban entrance plazas addressing each of these districts. It is the largest new station in Asia, comprising 28 elevated island platforms and three underground metro lines arranged over six floors, with a mix of intercity, express and metro trains, with provision for expansion and interchange to public and private transport systems. The clearly defined station layout is designed to accommodate an anticipated daily passenger flow exceeding 300,000 by 2030. Inspired by contemporary airport design, arrivals is vertically segregated from departures, expediting passenger flow.

Location Guangzhou, China
Architect Terry Farrell & Partners, Fourth Railway Survey and Design Institute (FSDI) and Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD)
Client Ministry of Railways, China
Structural engineer Schlaich Bergermann und Partner Beratende and BIAD
Services engineer FSDI and BIAD
Fire engineer Ove Arup & Partners
Pedestrian and traffic engineer Atkins
Construction period March 2007-July 2010
GFA 495,500 m²
Cost RMB 80 million (£7,716,200)

New Delhi Station - repairing the city FABRIC Station

The original New Delhi Station is one of the largest railway stations in India, handling over 250 trains a day. Farrell is the lead consultant for the masterplan to redevelop the station to be in line with the pace of modernisation and growth in the city centre. Landmark transportation hub links the east and west of the city, which the old station had divided. This provides property development above and around the station, along with improved passenger services and train operation and maintenance facilities. It illustrates how Old Delhi can be regenerated with minimal intervention and establishes an urban focal point in the north, in which to create a new, desirable neighbourhood. First phase is anticipated to have a passenger flow of one million people a day.
Location New Delhi, India
Architect Terry Farrell & Partners
Client Minister of Railways, India
Feasibility study 2007-8
GFA 86 hectares, including 50 acres retail and commercial accommodation

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