This chapter follows on from the natural and holistic approach to the contextual design of North Cross roundabout. Coupled with the knowledge gained from the analysis of the station I proceeded to formulate an appropriately suitable sustainable design solution…
Precedent: Timber Pavilion
Structure: 2000 World Expo Timber Pavilion
Architect: Herzog & De Meuron
Inspired by Nature
Mimicking the natural form of a tree in both materiality and form, the timber pavilion is an apt solution to the design problem. It would provide shelter from adverse weather conditions, and would blend perfectly with the newly-resolved natural topography of North Cross meadow. In addition, construction would be flexible and relatively cheap (with the right assembly techniques).
This system means that all the main amenity buildings (ticket office, information desk, coffee shops e.t.c.) are not exposed to the weather allowing them to be relatively simple in technicality and form. This, in turn, makes the station extremely flexible as structures can be shuffled, torn down, enlarged or altered with relative ease, in response to service demand.
The success of the pavilion design is in its modularity. Modular construction makes the structure flexible, quick and easy to erect as well as being relatively cheap as it is pre-fabricated in units off site, bringing down construction and labour costs.
The above construction (as further explained in my 3rd year technology report) uses a dual layer light timber mesh supporting a transparent ETFE exo-membrane for rain cover. This is supported by four timber-joist cantilevered branches that are, in turn, held up by four European Whitewood-wrapped steel columns bolted to a concrete base.
Precedent: Clarke Quay
Structure: Tensile Sheltering Umbrellas
Architect: Alsop / RSP / Sparch Architects
Budget: £36 million
Near the mouth of the Singapore river, what was once a hub of commercial activity has been revitalised through the use of steel-supported “cushions” that cover the high street. These umbrellas are covered with a patterned tensile membrane that provides both shading and weather protection. At the tips, coloured lighting is used to emphasise the cushions, helping accentuate the nighttime ambience.
Blurring the boundaries between structure and nature was actually relatively simple. As explained in the diagram below, the design subtly introduces the pavilions at an exponential scale whilst the existing tree line of North Cross meadows is maintained. This is relatively easy to achieve due to the open and modular nature of the design schematic.
Akin to the gradual introduction of nature to the arriving tourist, the train station floor tells a similar story of progression. The strong polished granite paving tiles that comprise the entire surface area of the platforms and entrance floor slowly break to reveal the light asphalt that makes up the meadow’s pathways.
Inter-twining of Nature
The gradual intertwining of both nature and structure reaches a peak along market street where both entities stand alongside one another to coexist seamlessly. A visitor or traveller is treated to a multi-layering of vegetation (see diagram to the left), similar in concept to that of the rainforest.
Nature retreats further into the structure as gradually as it is introduced. This is both a practical and conceptual necessity.
I have planned to achieve this feat by fixing a high-tensile woven fibre mesh netting system to a selection of the main pavilions, allowing creepers and vines to grow and hanging baskets to be attached.
Solar / Rainwater Collection
Solar: Because of the relative height of the pavilion structures and removal of the terraced houses to the south, the new station enjoys unbroken access to southern sunlight. To take advantage of this, solar panels have been proposed. The problem with the pavilion’s construction means that the panels cannot be attached to the roof themselves without piercing the roofs imperviable membrane. Instead I opted for a more unique solution, using solar sheeting, to grace the pavilions most southern facing aspects. These are attached using back rails and mounting clamps (see diagrams) and are angled to make full use of the sun.
Rainwater: Each pavilion module contains four copper gutter trays that collect rainwater over the module’s 30 metre span. This is funnelled into a central drainage pipe that runs inside of the pavilion’s four-column supports. This drainage pipe collects an initial level of rainwater that is accessed by tap (and hose) to water the varying degrees of plant life inside of the modular structure. Once this is filled, the rest of the water is used to fill an underground storage tank that pressures rainwater to the bathrooms to flush the toilets.
Grow Your Own
I have purposefully designed intermediary roof terraces between the offices because, firstly there is a significant benefit to separate oneself from one’s work, especially in a natural environment, and secondly because it can encourage a “grow your own” initiative that is designed to provide produce for the office workers. This could spark an interest in horticulture and cultivation for some workers that could branch out into their own gardens.
In addition to using the railway to deliver and promote the growing of local produce, a centralised market street has been installed to allow the farmers/shop owners another means to sell their goods. These will be let under similar laws to that of street vendors and temporary shopping carts.
I have made every effort to use materials from companies who have a strong sustainable ethic. The company GreenSteps, for example (see stage 3 technology report), who supply the structure’s ultra-high performance doors and windows have a very strong sustainable practice.
To educate the users of the new railway station with such companies and practices, dynamic and exciting posters (alongside the standard advertising ones) will be put to explain the principals and benefits of low-carbon construction, Passivhaus, and triple-glazing. It is likely that people will spend more time looking at these than those on street corners because of inevitability of waiting during the transportation process. Hopefully this will spark the beginnings of social change.
1 x Aerial Plan
1 x Exterior Perspective
2 x Long Elevations (North & West)
1 x General Arrangement Plan
1 x Interior Platform Perspective
1 x Elevation (North)
1 x Cross Section (North)
1 x Integrated Section
1 x Interior Waiting Area Perspective
The design itself was influenced by my landscape proposal over North Cross, and evolved after conceiving some of its more natural elements, (for example the joining of plants, trees and habitats). Because its form mimics that of nature, I feel that the connection between both is a soft and smooth transition. This is also helped because the form is hinted at before entering the station in parts of the parkland (as shelters for communal gardens and play-parks).
All in all I believe the project is a successful and applicable design solution to the current micro-problems in current station’s functionality. It is also an applicable continuation to my year-long investigation into the benefits of nature and green space.