China’s high-speed rail network will become the most expansive in the world as new additions reach completion. This feat of engineering is changing the nature of public transport across the country. Design challenges include resolving the interchange between transport modes as well as presenting the opportunity for designers to focus on passenger experience in the delivery of a new type of transport-related public space.
Tianjin Binhai High-Speed Rail station is located in the new district of Binhai, and is a planned point of interchange between high-speed rail, three metro lines, local and regional bus routes as well as local taxi services. The HASSELL design for the public domain aims to seamlessly integrate these services by providing connections above and below the plaza surface; opening lines of sight between the previously planned entry points; and forming a series of strategic spatial manoeuvres to provide comfortable and efficient passenger movement.
The project encompasses the public domain on both the northern and southern sides of the station, including an area of around 80 hectares. The HASSELL solution proposes two distinct settings for the station, with an urban garden to the north and an urban interchange plaza on the southern side.
The garden areas on the northern side of the station have been designed to provide protected areas from the cold winter winds, through the creation of sunken entry ramps. The selection of endemic plant species, together with their strategic location, aims to offer visual interest with varying colours through the seasons, while minimising maintenance requirements in winter.
The harsh environment of Tianjin had major implications for the design, generating a number of the key sustainability initiatives. The plaza form allows light to penetrate the underground areas and provides ventilation of the sub-surface concourse spaces, while also creating two protected and green atrium spaces for interchange movement and improved lines of sight.
When resolving the ‘in-between’ spaces that surround these large pieces of urban infrastructure, it was critical that the precinct engaged with the street edge. This has been achieved through the insertion of retail buildings, which activate the street and sunken plazas and draw people down into the metro station.
Produced through a collaborative team model, the design objectives of a landscape architecture project expanded to encompass broader spatial alterations to the metro station and focus on improving the passenger experience across all transport modes. Generated through the involvement of urban designers looking at access to the rail and metro stations, as well as architects focusing on improving interchange movement, the interventions that simultaneously shaped above-ground and sub-surface spaces meant the resulting design scheme was as an integrated response.
Prepared for the Third Railway Institute, which was responsible for delivering the project on behalf of the Tianjin Economic Development Agency (TEDA), it was necessary to achieve a number of complex objectives across many levels. Undertaken at a stage when much of the structural and site planning tasks of the transport planning project were nearing completion, an intelligent approach was required to meet the client’s objectives within a limited timeframe.
The ultimate goal that had been eluding previous schemes – satisfying the planning officials for the district – was achieved through the clear communication of the potential for improving the experiences of users of the many Tianjin transport networks converging at this site.
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