Traditionally modern

James
Monday 10 Sep 2012

AREP designs major new rail terminal for city of Wuhan

Wuhan, the capital of central China, stands at the crossroads of nine provinces. Located on the Yangtze River, at its confluence with the river Han, the city is surrounded by lakes and hills. It has a rich history, steeped in legend, and is currently developing at breakneck speed.

The new station in Wuhan stands as a symbol both of this historic past and its current spectacular development. The sweep of the roofs, which are systematically organised in two large wings, on either side of a central concourse running east to west, illustrates one of the most famous Wuhan legends and alludes to the flight of a legendary bird, a yellow crane, whose return to the country announces an era of prosperity and happiness.

Steeped in symbolism, the roof is in nine sections, echoing the city's location at the crossroads of nine provinces. The dynamic embodied in the image of the station is also that of present-day Wuhan. Thus, the image of the station appropriates an ancient component of the Chinese tradition - 'a sweeping roof that challenges the sky, built on a massive foundation rooted in the earth' - while at the same time projecting it into a highly-contemporary idiom. The station is thus a contemporary city monument, a present day palace, rooted in the city's modern and historical culture and values.

It is a gateway into the city, used by hundreds of thousands of passengers each day, travelling in from the surrounding provinces on fast, modern trains. A balcony over the city, the upper levels of the station on the west side afford magnificent views of the city of Wuhan and its surrounding lakes and hills. As the station affirms its strong architectural identity, form expresses function. The body of the bird, extending out from the alignment of the urban development, contains the access, reception, waiting and service functions.

Access routes to the platforms are central to the composition. The interplay of access routes and levels creates a three-dimensional space beneath the roof canopy, animated and punctuated by the movements of trains and passengers. The different itineraries all help to discover a space designed for exchange that is simultaneously efficient and poetic.

The wings extending out from either side of the body completely roof in the platforms. They are composed of roof sections created out of a succession of partially overlapping wavelets, which provide views of the sky. They protect the platforms very effectively while at the same time allowing the natural light to filter through. The general, west-facing composition marks the direction of the city.

    On the different levels: at level + 24m00: services, restaurants; at level + 17m20: departure halls, services and waiting rooms; at level + 10m20: train platforms. At this level, ticket sales take place on intermediate landings located between the ground level and the departure halls; at level ± 0m00: arrivals halls and exchanges between urban and regional transport modes; and at level - 6m00: Metro platforms.

    The garden plays two roles. As a way to access the station, it forms the transition between the city and the station. It also provides landscape continuity between the two lakes located to the north and south. The composition of the extensive mineral esplanade is organised along the station's central axis. The glass roof of the metro station and its access from the city are located along this same axis. On either side of the esplanade, plantings follow the gradients. The waters of the adjacent lakes meet on the esplanade. The sloping esplanade constitutes the massive, monumental foundation, over which floats the stations sinuous, airy roof.

    Key Facts

    Architecture
    China
    Transport

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