Founded to celebrate excellence in ‘design only’ projects across core sectors, the WAN Future Projects Transport Award 2016 once again attracted a varied selection of entries from around the world. The impressive range of designs submitted to this category showcased the potential for transport facilities to exceed their definition as places to pass through, as the designers demonstrated an ambition to transform the structures into significant destinations in their own right.
This year’s panel of expert judges, chosen for their wealth of experience in this sector, were: Jennifer Marmon, Founding Partner of Platform for Architecture + Research, Barry Hughes, Vice President at HOK, Chris Wilkinson, Principal and Founder of Wilkinson Eyre Architects, and Grant Brooker, Head of Studio 1 at Foster + Partners. The jury assessed the projects based on a number of criteria including originality, innovation, form, function, sustainability and context, as well as the potential of the concept to overcome key challenges in the design brief.
After much discussion, the jury agreed on a shortlist of six, listed below in no particular order:
The Underwater Domes of Istanbul, Turkey by AECOM
As the first undersea pedestrian tunnel in history, the Underwater Domes of Istanbul will provide a strategic and environmentally sustainable new link for the city to reduce road congestion and promote walking. The two-kilometre long structure under the Bosphorus promises to be more than a piece of functional infrastructure, as the unique nature of the project attracts attention as a potential landmark. The jury responded to the design’s scope and expressed a desire to see the project fulfilled, with Grant stating: “In my eyes it’s a must-do piece of infrastructure - an exciting ambition.”
In order to echo and reinvent the cityscape of Domes in above-ground Istanbul, the tunnel roof includes a series of features which reinterpret the traditional dome and add a contemporary feel to the space. A sequence of transitional areas provides an opportunity for discovery along the way. Jennifer noted: “The design presents a series of beautiful and surprising spaces within the underwater tunnel concourse.”
On a practical level, the tubular tunnel will be equipped with modern high-speed travellators on the upper pedestrian concourse deck, and incorporates an e-vehicle and bicycle route beneath. Grant appreciated the incorporation of the different modes of transport within the overall concept, saying: “It separates the traffic; it includes the bikes - there are lots of things that start to happen within the world it has created.”
Northside Bridge in Atlanta, United States by CallisonRTKL
Forging a connection between the Vine City MARTA station and the western entry into Mercedes Benz Stadium, the design for the Northside Bridge addresses a safety issue for pedestrians crossing the State Highway 41, and symbolises the city administration’s commitment to encourage the rehabilitation of the area surrounding the station.
The smooth, simple gesture of the shade structure emerges from the deck profile, creating a spatial experience evocative of passing through a game-day tunnel. A continuous slope, designed to handle over twenty thousand spectators attending events, encourages a paced progression that allows pedestrians to take in the city views. The result is a grand introduction to the stadium. Barry stated: “I think we can all imagine ourselves walking across there and it adding to the anticipation of the event. Also, it looks like a nice addition to the urban fabric.” Chris agreed, saying, “It’s part of journey to the stadium and will be a pleasure to walk across.”
The many infrastructural systems around the site form a connective destination while the design harnesses the flows of people, directing them across the site. No longer a place to pass through, the bridge becomes a destination to explore. Grant said: “There’s a real event feel to this project, and it’s a great people bridge.”
Arkitektbron in Gothenburg, Sweden by Erik Andersson Architects
This new pedestrian bridge, located in Gothenburg’s historically important Haga area, is planned as part of a scheme to unlock the potential of attractive city spaces by increasing accessibility. Thanks to its carbon fibre construction, Arkitektbron is light and elegant, and designed to give the visual impression of hovering over the water. Chris responded to the strong overall aesthetic, saying: “This project is a poetic idea and solution. A poetic statement.”
Practical considerations for pedestrians’ comfort are integrated into the concept, with a scheme to heat the bridge in Winder in order to keep it free from snow. Those crossing the water have plenty of space, and the glass railing allows even children to see the water. The height of the bridge itself lets pedestrians walking along the existing promenade pass under the bridge. On the park side, the structure adapts to the existing trees, while its generous, circular form creates a new urban space. Furthering this concept, the bridge is also a cultural arena, as the park surface inside the opening functions as an amphitheatre. Jennifer praised the design’s unity of form and function, stating: “The architecture is simultaneously delicate and strong, precise and fluid, technically inventive yet understated; the bridge successfully interacts with its context and the activities it contains, creating a sense of experiential richness.”
Washington/Wabash CTA Elevated Station in Chicago, United States by exp
The new Washington/Wabash Station is intended to transform the perception of public transportation facilities, and become a gateway for Millennium Park and many of Chicago’s downtown attractions. Barry appreciated the design’s strength in creating the feel of a distinct destination, noting an atmosphere of “lightness and delight above that platform, which seems to create a little more sense of place than some of the other solutions we saw today.”
The wave form of the station canopies weaves through the historic Wabash Avenue canyon as a playful undulating counterpoint to the geometry of the city grid and buildings, and anticipates the soft forms of the park and lake beyond. Chris stated: “It’s a good-looking scheme. I think it would be a very joyful place to arrive at.” The architecture of the canopies is simple, elegant and economical, while the skeletal steel and faceted glass structure creates a dynamic play of light alluding to diamond facets and nearby shopping district Jeweler’s Row. From the platform, the canopy serves as a deliberate contrasting frame that captures views to the historic Wabash facades. Grant said: “If you look where the station is now, and then compare that to the proposal, it seems that somebody cares and has made a deliberate attempt to lift it up, to give the feeling that the station is important. I think this is a very positive look at how transport and infrastructure can be handled.”
Kizilirmak Bridge in Sivas, Turkey by Melike Altinisik Architects
Melike Altinisik Architects won first mention in a competition run by Sivas Municipality to design the Kizilirmak Bridge, combining pedestrian and cycling functions across the Kizilirmak River. The new route will play an important role, fusing two cultural and social hubs: Sivas Cumhuriyet University and Sivas City Centre. Grant commented: “The stepped access, the cycle lanes and places for people to walk are a real positive to this bridge.” With Sivas’s morphological and structural elements defining physical conditions, the design proposal creates an avant-garde approach to obtain coherency between the different elements, and harmonises the bridge with its topography. Barry said: “I give this project high marks, because it’s a utilitarian piece of infrastructure which adds beauty.”
The pedestrian and cycle routes are surrounded by vegetation, to promote the ecological city life-style central to the project. Furthering the connection to the river, the green areas along the bridge will be nourished by the water from the Kizilirmak itself. The park-like atmosphere will help form an attraction creating demand for cultural and social activities, as the designers recognised that the site’s potential for future use is a factor equal in importance to the bridge’s architectural structure. Barry praised this ambition to transform the area, saying: “It’s making infrastructure into something that is value added and shared.”
LaGuardia Airport Master Plan in New York, United States by SHoP Architects
In 2015, SHoP was selected as a finalist in the Master Plan Design Competition for New York's LaGuardia Airport. Launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Vice President Joseph Biden, the goal was to re-imagine the entirety of LGA as a world-class facility, offering a unified terminal environment, improved airside and landside operations and an appropriate gateway to New York City. Jennifer deemed SHoP’s approach successful in the context of this brief, stating: “The design re-imagines La Guardia airport with a bold and simple form that clearly resolves multimodal transport while celebrating both the drama of air travel and Manhattan.”
In order to address the needs of the Queens community, the approaches to LGA were reconceived to eliminate truck traffic on local streets. Two shoreside parks with soft tidal edges were proposed as part of an approach to environmental responsibility that also included installations of façade-integrated solar technology, and an on-site power plant. Bridges rather than tunnels cross the proposed dual taxiways, encouraging line-of-sight way-finding clarity. This solution saves time and cost while improving passenger experience, as the bridges allow users to take in a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline, affirming a new sense of place. Grant said: “It looks like it’s an exciting terminal to arrive at. It has an address and a presence, and for me they are important aspects of designing airport terminals.”
The jury also wished to commend Form4 Architecture for the Glass Butterfly in Holbaek, Denmark. This bus shelter is inspired by a formal negotiation between the delicacy of glass and its structural integrity. Grant appreciated the innovative use of glass, which he noted was well visualised. Despite its seemingly imminent flight from the ground, the structure is securely anchored to the soil through unobtrusive steel connections. Maximum structural integrity is provided by the graceful, U-shaped glass bays. The elliptical photovoltaic panels on the roof and above the bays have the dual function of harnessing solar energy to power the structure and serving as shading devices to shield those sitting below. Through the use of LED lighting, the glass transitions from a transparent cocoon during the day, to a guidepost at night. Praising the overall look of the shelter, Barry commented, “I think it’s one of the most picturesque objects we’ve seen,” while Chris agreed, saying: “It’s a beautiful idea.”
Many thanks to all those involved in the WAN Future Projects Transport Award 2016, and congratulations to the six finalists and commended design within this category. An overall winner from the shortlist will be announced on 14th March 2017.
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