Newport train station redevelopment, opening on the 13 September, represents a step change in transport design with a featherweight plastic covering that is a hundred times lighter than glass and requires a fraction of the steel and concrete support of a normal structure. With Atkins as principal consultant, the combination of iconic design and engineering excellence has produced arguably one of the most remarkable new rail stations in the UK.
Atkins’ contract covered two terminal buildings, accommodation blocks, connecting bridge and external works, with provision of civil & structural engineering, building services engineering, landscape architecture, rail, telecoms and pedestrian flow expertise. The station architecture was subcontracted to Grimshaw.
The design embraces the divide between the two distinct halves of the city, caused by the bisecting railway tracks. Passenger facilities, ticket offices and platform access are split equally between the two concourses either side of the tracks. All elements are situated within terminal buildings constructed of structural steelwork and covered in continuous ETFE (Ethylene TetraFluoroEthylene) cushions with aluminium-clad spirals.
The spiral design mirrors the route passengers take within the station and helps to ease traffic flow by guiding customers from ground level up to the connecting bridge and back down onto the platforms. The additional structures which make up the station are separated from the main public areas and contained within simple brick clad structures which plug into the spiral forms.
According to Atkins’ project manager, Brad James: “In line with Network Rail’s aspirations a key priority for Atkins’ design team was minimising the buildings operational energy demands which led to us utilising natural ventilation on the concourse and installing low power lighting in some areas. Another key challenge was responding to the station’s unique architectural concept and geometry. This meant Atkins’ technical teams working hand in glove with Grimshaw’s architects to distil a complex series of engineering problems into straightforward practical solutions. The result is a station that we believe will become a real focus of attention both for its design quality and its ease of use for the passenger.”
Chris Crombie, Associate at Grimshaw, said: “To address the shortcomings facing suburban stations such as small ticket offices, cramped stairs and bridges, the ticket office in Newport Station is meshed with the connecting bridge, creating a large, welcoming ticket office space and ensuring that the bridge is fully engaged with the station.”
A key element of the build was the construction of the main bridge which was lifted into position during track possessions over the Christmas period. The bridge was installed in four sections all of which were pre-assembled with the ETFE cushions, Kalzip aluminium sheets and glass prior to being lifted, reducing the extent of work subsequently required over the tracks. Due to the time critical nature of the 56 hour Christmas possession Atkins modelled all possible sequences of combinations for the installation of the bridge elements to give the contractor maximum flexibility.