The WAN Transport Award 2016 seeks to celebrate transport projects that not only enhance travel and access, but also advance social mobility and reinvigorate civic spaces, from trains and tram stations to airports and seaports. Once again, we saw wide-ranging and innovative entries confronting the practicalities involved with the management of movement, while exhibiting a strong design aesthetic.
Our jury panel, chosen for their knowledge and experience in transport architecture, reviewed the projects based on a number of factors such as innovation, originality, and how well the design addressed the key challenges within the client brief.
This year’s expert judging panel were: Catherine Hallett, Technical Sponsor for River Crossings at Transport for London, Anthony Leslie, Vice President of HOK, Bridget Rosewell OBE, founder and senior partner at Volterra Parners, Steen Trojaborg, Managing Director and Partner at DISSING+WEITLING, and Chris Williamson, co-founder of WestonWilliamson+Partners.
The high standard of this year’s diverse entries led to a challenging decision for the jury. After much discussion, six projects were chosen from a shortlist of 24, listed below in no particular order:
Taumanu Reserve Bridge in Auckland, New Zealand by Isthmus Group.
This bridge restores a connection to a re-imagined coastal landscape created after motorway development in the 1970s severed the local populace from the sea. Its cambered form provides a ‘reveal’ experience for sequential movement from the land to the sea and opens out to dramatic views to the Manukau Harbour. Catherine noted the contrast between the bridge and its surroundings, which nevertheless draws together opposing elements by referencing the seascape through its evocation of driftwood: “Set amongst all the pylons and metal, you have this beautiful piece of floating wood.” The method of design is a marriage of old and new, with artwork on the bridge’s interior timber panelling commissioned with guidance from the project’s Maori advisors and the resulting contemporary design carved by machine, while in counterpoint anodized aluminium shells adorn the gateway upstands. Anthony applauded this sensitive, thoughtful solution to the problem of reuniting the community with the coast. Bridget agreed, concluding: “The architect has responded to the brief with imagination and verve.”
Porto Cruise Terminal in Matosinhos, Portugal by Luis Pedro Silva, Arquitecto Lda.
The distinctive port terminal building, with its sinuous design following the jetty’s curve, impressed the jury immediately, inviting descriptions such as ‘ambitious’ and ‘stunning’. The main exterior walls circle around the building, and a fourth falls inwards to form a helical ramp connecting the internal functions within a quadruple height space. These walls extend to function as both the side of the marina, or a walkway to the boat. From the beach side, the building appears directly connected Leixões port, in that it faces towards the jetty, with a mysterious blind façade to intrigue inland viewers. The panel noted the transformative nature of the project, taking the building beyond its functional purpose, with Chris labelling the building “inventive and sculptural”, while Catherine described the project as “a container port in the Atlantic Ocean that has been turned into theatre.” Anthony praised the open roof, stating: “the use of the roof as an inhabitable space, and as a way to get off the ship, is very promising.”
Siilitie Metro Station in Helsinki, Finland by Cederqvist & Jäntti Architects.
The station was redesigned in a process that completely remodelled the original building, with the renewed architecture based on the contrast between the lightweight glazing of the platform area walls and the heavy gabion base that wraps around the entrance at ground level. Bare rock forms the other facade of the platform area and integrates the interior of the station with the landscape, resulting in a striking effect several jury members were moved to describe as ‘beautiful’. Steen said: “The contrast between the rocks and concrete is almost man meets nature.” In the daytime the platform area is lit by natural light through five round skylights and the glass walls. At night the station lights up and becomes a transparent beacon, an approach Catherine commended as ‘inventive’ and ‘clever’. The warm shade of the wooden texture in the interior ceiling and the glow of orange metro trains of Helsinki create a dynamic and welcoming atmosphere inside and around the station.
Train Control Centre in Utrecht, Netherlands by de Jong Gortemaker Algra architecten en ingenieurs BV.
This new train control centre in Utrecht is the dynamic heart of ProRail’s train services in and around the city. The design by dJGA specifically focussed on users; the main aim is to allow them to do their jobs as effectively as possible. The orientation of the signalling room, the design of the outer façade, triple glazing, hybrid cooling machines and an “Energyroof+” (solar energy collector system in the roof) contribute to creating a comfortable working environment with a generous amount of daylight. Bridget deemed this approach successful, saying: “You wouldn't think a building like this could be made so responsive. I'd like to work here.” Immediately apparent is the visual echo between the railway tracks and the rust-coloured parallel lines running across the outer façade. Catherine noted that the building was just as appealing to those travelling past as to those working inside: “The orange rust colour I think is stunning. I can imagine the effect from a moving train would work well.”
Bowen Place Crossing in Canberra, Australia by Spackman Mossop Michaels with Lahz Nimmo Architects.
This new public space forms a connection to the shore of Lake Burley Griffin within the Parliamentary Zone, a place of great cultural and ceremonial significance. Spackman Mossop Michaels, with Lahz Nimmo Architects, was awarded the project after winning an invited national design competition run by the National Capital Authority. The project brief sought to replace a dangerous crossing with a pedestrian and cyclist underpass, and the design strategy was fundamentally landscape driven, to create a simple and elegant geometry that slots seamlessly into the existing environs. Chris praised this “fantastic combination of sculpture, landscaping, function, and engineering,” noting the “great attention to detail.” The conventional underpass was rethought to create a generous, light filled space to encourage confident usage both day and night. All paths are designed with fully accessible grades and are generously wide to function as shared paths that accommodate all users. Anthony highlighted this broad, inclusive appeal, stating: “A very sure hand has done this. A project like this can have a huge affect on a lot of people.”
Nørreport Station in Copenhagen, Denmark by Gottlieb Paludan Architects and COBE Architects.
Nørreport Station is Denmark’s busiest transport hub, with around 350,000 travellers a day. The creation of an open and accessible urban space involved consideration of the efficiency of passenger flows, transforming a previously chaotic, unsafe and noisy area into a place characterised by safety, comfort and efficiency. The design and layout of the buildings and bicycle parking facilities are based on pedestrian movement from the surrounding roads, while parked bicycles are not hidden away but left visible to demonstrate the Copenhagen’s identity as an important city for cyclists. The jury were struck by the ingenious response to the brief, which Chris described as a “simple, elegant solution to a complicated problem.” The cohesive space has no backs or corners, making it appealing and approachable from any angle. Anthony said: “It's clearly innovative with the re-routing of the road allowing a pedestrian environment.” He noted the many different elements incorporated into the design, and went on to say: “I feel like they've made an asset out of a problem.”
Thank you to all involved in the WAN Transport 2016 Award and congratulations to the six finalists of this category. From the shortlist, an overall winner will be announced on 1st November 2016.
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