A new model for railway design

James Forryan
03 Sep 2009

TFP Farrells' groundbreaking railway station in Beijing

Completed in August 2008, this fully integrated multi-modal transportation hub serves as a 'Gateway' to the capital and a vital link in China’s new high-speed intercity network. A major urban building and masterplan, it is one of the largest contemporary railway stations in the world designed for a passenger turnover of 286,500 daily, 105-million annually by 2030. To accommodate these vast numbers a new model in railway station design was developed, integrating the multi-modal transport interchange facility with a vertical separation strategy designed to make passenger traffic flows direct, convenient and highly efficient.

Located on existing railway land, one of the challenges was how the geometry of the station juxtaposes the diagonal fan of the railway tracks to Beijing’s cardinal urban grid; Farrells developed an urban response that unites them by connecting the building to two adjacent public parks and the wider city context. The station is an important and enduring public building that enhances and informs the city fabric with a simple contemporary, unique, unifying form that provides the station with an innovative architectural solution to the complex functional and contextual requirements of the site; and acts as a catalyst for new development to the surrounding urban area.

A pilot project for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) in China, the large oval dome shaped roof was designed in answer to the Client’s brief, to cover the entire length of the platforms, to protect the station from the elements—sand storms, cold harsh winters and extreme summer temperatures—and to moderate the indoor climate. To achieve unobstructed concourses, as desired by the Client, a catenary roof was designed that allows for large spans resulting in light and airy spaces, with generous ambient light and openness to reduce over-crowding, improve wayfinding and generate a feeling of safety. Sustainable and environmental elements include natural cross-ventilation to reduce the cooling loads and air-binnacles, to cool the Departure Level area enhancing passenger comfort. A further key Client request was for the roof design to reflect the stations cultural significance which was achieved by creating a modern interpretation of the up-turned hip roofs, inspired by the Temple of Heaven.

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