This thesis is a study of the urban design proposal for a new subterranean rail station in the North Central Area of Liverpool. It is also an attempt to re-address Britain’s redundant infrastructure and is a project with a predominantly brown-field aim. The station creates an international interchange of high-speed European, national and local services, addressing the spatial quality of a station as more than a shed spanning and unifying spaces, but as a series of spaces and a journey through a common theme. The interchange is the intermediate space, coming between two environments in time, place and character.
In order to achieve a clear connection to a new Merseyrail station, a subterranean route is reinstated and a differentiation of vehicular domain and pedestrian environment is achieved. The interchange has evolved to create an organic plan informed by the level constraints of the site and the desire lines of movement.
The station masterplan introduces three distinct elements in the journey from above ground to subterranean platforms. These comprise of the carriage, the shaft and the tunnel. The carriage is the linear built form that creates a circulation valley to convey passengers through to the Arrivals/Departures Hall. This intermediate concourse is suspended between the ground and the subterranean strata. It is a drum that organises and distributes the flow of passengers.
A detailed sequence of construction has informed the excavation process of the design. It is important that the construction cost and efficient design of such a massive engineering feat can be adapted to create a piece of passive architecture. This is achieved by the creation of a commercially viable construction procedure, which allows all station plant to be isolated from passenger movement.
The design addresses the maximum use of natural daylighting and ventilation and the recycling of excavated material and pumped groundwater.
The following aims have been critical from an urban level to the detailed design stage:
a. to re-use, re-address, re-define and re-cycle.
b. desire to expose the lower strata of red sandstone.
c. drive to achieve architectural space from such a huge engineering exercise.
The sixth year studio has made serious inroads into creating a realisable pattern of development for the North Docks area of Liverpool. Taking note of what has been achieved elsewhere with similar political and ownership patterns, the work acknowledges the process of northerly transformation that is already underway adjacent to the Pierhead and proposes a clear overall strategy for the land.
Development scenarios have been created and tested, together with attendant capacity studies to suggest that the North Docks could transform into:
- an extremely efficient port
- an ecologically progressive living and working settlement.
- a location for the arrival in Liverpool of the European High Speed Rail Network
- a New Town for Liverpool in the first part of the 21st Century.
Hazel’s urban work has proved instrumental in the creation of a cluster of development to the immediate north of the existing city centre. This cluster, with three main generators (a new riverside stadium, rail interchange and agora) forms the New Exchange District. The primarily pedestrianised area links the existing business area of Liverpool city centre with the riverfront. Whilst respecting existing proposals in the area, it creates a new urban quarter of living and working and provides an important riverside park to a city centre deficient in public space.
The location and timing of Hazel’s station has been phased to accommodate existing businesses and will act as a primary generator for the New Exchange District and the whole city. Drawing light down to the subterranean high-speed rail platforms, via a quarry of exposed natural sandstone, the clarity of pedestrian movement is defined by distinct elements, creating a series of passenger spaces. Hazel has:
- illustrated a clear theoretical position on design
- appraised the historical significance of the site in terms of human layers and physical remains
- adopted a design method which maximises the site, her brief and her talents
- tested the design outcomes at a technical level in terms of environmental strategy, structure and construction
- communicated her design convincingly and effectively.