China's High-Speed Rail network will become the most expansive in the world as new additions reach completion. This feat of engineering is changing the nature of public transport across China, creating design challenges in resolving interchange between transport modes as well as presenting the opportunity for designers to focus on passenger experience in the delivery of a new type of transport-related public space.
Tianjin Binhai High-Speed Rail station is located in the new district of Binhai, and is a planned point of interchange between high-speed rail, three metro lines, local and regional bus services as well as local taxi services. The HASSELL design for the public domain aims to seamlessly integrate these services by providing connections above and below the plaza surface; opening lines of sight between the previously planned entry points; and creating a series of strategic spatial manoeuvres that will provide comfortable and efficient passenger movement.
The project encompasses the public domain on both the northern and southern sides of the station, including an area of around 80 hectares. The HASSELL solution proposes the creation of two distinct settings for the station, creating an urban garden to the north and an urban interchange plaza on the southern side.
The combination of Tianjin's harsh climates, and the existing engineering proposal for underground rail arrivals and metro station, led to the key design response being formed around of a hybrid plaza/roof structure. Allowing for light into underground areas and rising at the edges to create two green atriums for interchange movement and improved lines of sight to the underground services, this gesture expanded the project scope beyond the brief. The result is a sequence of grand and light-filled spaces that provide fluid movement between the multiple transport services and open outwards towards two sunken plaza spaces and an open urban plaza above.
When resolving the ‘in-between' spaces that surround these large pieces of urban infrastructure, it was critical that the precinct engaged with the street edge. This has been achieved within the scheme through the insertion of retail wedge buildings, activating the street and sunken plaza spaces and drawing people down into the metro station.