Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
Newport Station Renovation by Grimshaw and Atkins
February 24th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal
Grimshaw, in association with Atkins, has redesigned Newport Station as part of a citywide regeneration master plan by Newport Unlimited. Network Rail was the primary funder and client for the project with the Welsh Assembly Government also providing substantial financial support. While the need for regeneration of the station was created from the shortfalls of the existing facility, the impetus for its construction was the fact that the city was set to play host to the most prestigious tournament in golf, the Ryder Cup, in October 2010.
Newport is located on the south coast of Wales, equidistant from Cardiff and the Welsh border. It is the first Welsh city that rail passengers travelling to Cardiff from England pass through and is therefore considered a significant station on the Great Western Main Line. With this in mind, Network Rail were keen that a new station be designed which could act as a gateway not only to Newport, but to Wales herself.
The existing station was considered by Network Rail to no longer meet the expectations of today’s rail traveller. It operated from a single concourse serving only one side of the tracks and was located in an impractical position to one end of the platforms. This arrangement required passengers to walk long distances when boarding or alighting trains with little provision for step free access across the tracks.
Although reliant on the rail network, Newport – like many cities – has been bisected by its tracks, with the result that each half of the city has developed its own character. Grimshaw’s design embraces this divide, creating two major new concourses. The north concourse is on the civic side of the city and focuses on the needs of commuters. The south concourse, on the commercial side, is for connecting travellers, daytrippers and tourists.
The station building takes the form of two domed concourses on either side of the rail tracks linked by a passenger footbridge, with the key passenger facilities split equally. The domes of the concourse spaces are clad in spiralling ribbons of continuous ETFE and aluminium. The spiral language reflects the passenger route within the building and intuitively guides users from ground level entrances up to the passenger footbridge and towards the platforms.
The geometry and wrapped application of materials blurs the traditional boundaries between wall roof, bridge and building. Passengers experience a series of uniquely shaped spaces internally which flow from the main concourse areas into the footbridge then onto the platforms. Externally the fifth elevation, or the way in which it appears from above, has been developed by omitting the roof in its traditional sense and instead considering the building as a 3D object. This approach responds to the topography of the surrounding area and respects the view from buildings which overlook the site.
Each concourse building is constructed on the principle of a radial portal frame. A high level compression ring provides fixity to radial ’ ribs’ which span into this from pinned connections at ground level. The ribs were fabricated from flat plate, cut and profiled to follow the external profile of the enclosure. Between the ribs, the spiraling language of the cladding materials also informs the design of the secondary and tertiary structural steel members and, in turn, the overall internal aesthetic. Through the use of inherently lightweight cladding materials, the quantity of secondary steel has been significantly reduced, increasing efficiency and reducing the building’s overall weight.
The passenger bridge, which is constructed and supported independently of the domed buildings, spans between, and over, each of the four station platforms. It takes support from within each of the concourse buildings by way of a specific ’T’ column and at the central point on the lift core. A third arm to the bridge provides connection to the central platform by means of a staircase. The central core which sits on the island platform, incorporates a lift shaft with a stiff torsion ring beam fabricated from steel plate at the bearing points with tapered cantilevered arms to carry the outer perimeter of the bridge. This central support provides lateral stability in all directions, while each of the perimeter bearing points are released longitudinally to allow for thermal movement of the bridge structure. The bridge utilizes a compact lattice truss, concealed below the level of the handrails to each side of the walkways. The roof structure to the bridges is in curved tubular steel which carries the ETFE, glass and aluminium cladding.
Internally vertical passenger circulation within the concourse buildings is carved into and over the top of regular ancillary structures which house the ticket offices and staff accommodation. This arrangement avoids the traditional issues with ’dusty shelves’ associated with single story accommodation within larger volumes. It also presents an immediately identifiable route which passengers understand immediately upon entering the station.
The station’s remaining ancillary accommodation is separated from the main public areas and contained within brick-clad structures which sit alongside, and plug into, the domed concourses. These cellular spaces fulfil the brief requirements for the Train Operating Companies (TOCs), the British Transport Police (BTP) and retail tenants. Constructed from blue glazed brick, these structures provides a robust and vandal-resistant surface while making reference to the heritage of fine brick detailing of the existing station buildings. The simple forms of the side blocks offer a sedate backdrop to the excitement of the domed concourse buildings.
The environmental response to the design of the station is founded upon minimising energy use and consumption by adopting a sustainable approach to the whole development. The design incorporates low carbon solutions which are appropriate to the needs of the station. To minimize energy consumption (and operational cost), space heating is provided only in the areas of the building which are in constant occupation.
The glazed brick clad accommodation buildings are served by fully installed Low Nox condensing boilers which feed under floor heating. The north and south concourse areas and link bridge are neither heated nor insulated as they will be occupied on a transient basis only. The need for air-conditioned spaces was given similar consideration and was subsequently limited to a small number of permanently occupied rooms. In other areas, a fresh supply of air is drawn through an underground Awadukt system to facilitate preheating and precooling of the incoming air supplies during winter and summer seasons respectively.
Rainwater harvesting tanks have been incorporated in the design at both the north and south terminals. The reclaimed water is used for toilet flushing in both public and back-of-house areas. Newport Station was opened to passengers in September 2010 in time for the city to play host to the Ryder Cup. The upgraded station catered for the influx of travellers to Newport for this event and is set to become an icon of the city’s ongoing regeneration.
Category: Transport & Infrastructure