Elevated elegance and simplicity

Nick Myall
Wednesday 21 Jun 2017

The designers of these subway stations took their inspiration from a simple source - a pen and a roll of paper

Beijing Subway Fang Shan Line, connecting with Line 9 at Guo Gong Zhuang station, in Feng Tai district, to Liang Xiang Su Zhuang, in Fang Shan district, Beijing, has 11 stations in total with nine overground and two underground with an overall track length of 24,799 km.

With an inherited idea from planning one view for one line, all the nine overground stations are of similar layout and alike appearance. There were three design institutes, five cladding contractors and many partner institutes working on the line, signal, power supply etc. The management mode of the project was more like a matrix of multi-to-multi than a radiation of one-to-multi.

The basic type of station is a building of three storeys with rails in the centre or on both sides, MEP on ground floor and the second together with entrance hall with the platform on the third.

Moreover, the aesthetic request for a new station at that time was raised by Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning. It was expected to be elegant and pleasing. All the station designers were struggling to meet it to get their work approved.

Linked up by the upward and downward tails, the stations look like a string of beads on a necklace. Most of the stations sit in the middle of the green belt with a two-lane road and an overpass on each side linking to the sidewalk creatng a strong sense of orientation and identifiability.

Commenting on the stations the architects said: "We wanted to take one view for one line, a spreading urban picture station to station, a developing blueprint. Our solution started from rolling a paper to wrap a pen, the two favorite tools of an architect. The curved paper jerked at the two ends, seemed to be towed by the pen, the same way the cladding is by the rails to give the sense of orientation and movement.

The minimum envelop cladded the platform with an overlapped roof on the top to form a rain-screened ventilation gap letting go overheated air in summer, and material changing from metal panel to glazing panel at the two triangle corners on both ends to ease the tension of on the driver’s vision. The built quality of the stations was subject to their tight schedule and the average construction level at that time. The final result just roughly matched the original design intent. Nevertheless, whether they are elegant and pleasing will be left to the users and the test of time."

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