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International competition to shape Britain’s small to medium-sized railway stations

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To shape the future of Britain’s railway stations, Network Rail and RIBA Competitions have launched an international competition which asks designers to reimagine small to medium-sized stations – which make up 80 per cent of all those on Britain’s railway – so they can better serve the needs of both passengers and their local communities.

The competition, which encourages entries that stimulate creativity and address the changing character of our society, will give architects, engineers and designers the chance to improve the travel experience for the millions of passengers who use Britain’s railway, and leave a lasting legacy on station design.

Network Rail and RIBA Competitions have worked together before. They jointly ran the successful Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, the winners of which were announced in December 2018.

To assist entrants, Network Rail and RIBA Competitions published some examples of existing small to medium-sized railway stations across the UK national rail network that were constructed using previous standardised approaches:

Entrants are asked to assess how future stations can be sustainable and deliver outstanding value, whilst considering the impact on the environment to achieve net zero emissions to leave a positive legacy for future generations.

Anthony Dewar, Network Rail.

Anthony Dewar, head of buildings and architecture at Network Rail, said: “Fostering creativity and developing an outward-looking, collaborative culture is a key priority for Network Rail, so I’m delighted we are hosting this competition, which gives designers a unique opportunity to leave a lasting legacy on our railway and improve the journeys of millions of passengers through quality design.

“Our ambition is to raise the quality of design across the whole rail network, as well as responding to the evolving role of infrastructure within communities.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming creative and forward-thinking designs which will help us better serve the communities and passengers who rely on our railway.”

Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Rail Minister.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris added: “For two centuries, the UK has been at the cutting edge of rail innovation, and our forefathers enticed our towns and cities with some of the most iconic and beautiful stations in the world.

“Harnessing creativity and ambition through competitions like this will help us carry on that great spirit of design that delivers better journeys for passengers.

“This competition will help build the railway of tomorrow, ensuring we continue to modernise and improve our railway, making it welcoming and accessible for all passengers.”

There are more than 2,000 small-to-medium stations across Britain, varying greatly in terms of design quality and amenities. By improving the overall quality of stations, they can better serve their communities, whilst accommodating potential enhancements to the existing and future passenger experience through good design.

Designers should consider either adapting existing stations, to meet passenger requirements better, or developing new-build stations to accommodate the projected increase in demand for rail travel.

The competition is open internationally to individuals and teams from both small and large organisations from the design, built environment and manufacturing industries.

Judging panel

The judging panel will include:

  • Lucy Musgrave OBE (founding director of Publica)
  • Jonathan McDowell (director, Matter Architecture)
  • Chris Wise (senior director, Expedition Engineering)
  • Dinah Casson CBE (RDI designer)
  • Victoria Lee (lead programme manager, Design Council)
  • Paul Beaty-Pownall (managing director, BPR Architects Ltd)
  • Sahar Fikouhi (founder, ARki)
  • Anthony Dewar (professional head of buildings and architecture, Network Rail)
  • Frank Anatole (principal architect, Network Rail)
  • Ian Grimes (principal engineer, Network Rail)

Further details can be found on the RIBA Competitions website. The closing date for submission of design proposals is 14:00 (BST) on Tuesday 15 September 2020.

The competition will be organised in three phases, with the first phase involving the anonymous submission of design proposals. Up to six entrants will be invited to phase two, each receiving an honorarium of £20,000 +VAT. In the final phase, up to three entrants will be invited to enter into a services contract to develop their design solutions further with a contract sum of up to £250,000 awarded to each (subject to negotiation).

Network Rail has published a retrospective photographic study of small to medium-sized railway stations across the UK national rail network HUB – Making places for people and trains. This was produced in conjunction with David Lawrence and Luke O’Donovan with foreword by Sir Simon Jenkins.

The brief for this competition has been informed by the findings of the Design Council’s Think Station Report on the design of future local railway stations.

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