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Competition: Railway Footbridges, UK

UK railways infrastructure manager Network Rail is holding an ideas contest to rethink pedestrian footbridges across its 40,000ha estate (Deadline: 18 September)

Open to practising architects, structural engineers and civil engineers, the single-stage anonymous competition seeks innovative proposals for a standardised, fully accessible crossing which could be used across the 32,000km network.

The RIBA-organised competition aims to generate new design solutions for the body, which manages most of England, Scotland and Wales’s railway infrastructure including 2,400 footbridges. Proposals will be expected to draw on railway heritage and be suitable for stations, rights of way, and level crossings.

Llanfairpwll Station footbridge in Wales

Llanfairpwll Station footbridge in Wales

Source: Image by Nilfanion

Llanfairpwll Station footbridge in Wales

Network Rail’s head of buildings and architecture Anthony Dewar said: ‘Network Rail is committed to promoting design excellence. That’s why we’re challenging the architectural and engineering community to come up with new and innovative ideas for footbridge structures that will be both functional in form and sympathetic to the communities that they serve.

‘The winning design concept will also need to protect and enhance the great legacy of engineering design that is inherent in railway history. We’re excited to see the solutions that will be put forward.’

Network Rail is an arm’s length public body with responsibility for the maintenance and upgrading of the country’s railway network. The organisation is mid-way through a £38 billion investment programme which will increase electrification and capacity on many routes.

Since 2006, Network Rail has installed more than 200 new footbridges as part of the UK Department for Transport’s Access for All (AfA) programme, which aims to boost accessibility at stations by creating obstacle-free routes from street entrances to platforms.

Knight Architects’ 60m-long crossing in Waltham Forest

Knight Architects’ 60m-long crossing in Waltham Forest

Knight Architects’ 60m-long crossing in Waltham Forest

Recent structures include Knight Architects’ 60m-long crossing (pictured) in Waltham Forest, and Studio Egret West and Hawkins\Brown’s new East Croydon pedestrian bridge and station entrance.

The latest competition seeks innovative design solutions which challenge presumptions and raise expectations for the quality of future footbridge design across the network. A £20,000 design fund will be awarded to a single winning scheme.

The judging panel – chaired by AR editorial director Paul Finch – includes Dewar, Rowan Conway of the Royal Society of Arts, Kay Hughes of Khaa, Chris Wise from Expedition Engineering, and Jonathan McDowell of Matter Architecture who will be acting as RIBA architect adviser.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 2pm, 18 September

Contact details

RIBA Competitions
No 1 Aire Street
Leeds
LS1 4PR

Tel: 0113 203 1490
Email: riba.competitions@riba.org

Visit the competition website for more information

East Croydon station bridge case study: Q&A with Harbinder Birdi

The architect and partner at Hawkins\Brown discusses lessons learned designing a new station entrance and Bridge at East Croydon in London

How did your project deliver an innovative and fully accessible footbridge for East Croydon Station?

Key to the success of the project was ensuring that we consult and engage with all the stakeholders. We consulted Croydon Council the adjoining developers, network rail, TFL and the community. The close working relationship we had with Stanhope, the developers of the adjacent site, enabled us to assemble, construct and safely launch the bridge across an operational railway which has never been undertaken before. Engagement with the developers enabled us to ensure that we could achieve step-free access from either side of the bridge.

East Croydon station bridge by Hawkins\Brown

East Croydon station bridge by Hawkins\Brown

Source: Image by Tim Crocker

East Croydon station bridge by Hawkins\Brown

The bridge was designed using prefabricated components. the 1000 tonne,100m-long steel bridge structure was fabricated in Bolton and delivered to Croydon. Much of the bridge structure was constructed prior to the launch of the bridge to minimise the work that would need to be undertaken whilst located above a live rail.

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

We were mindful that in time the bridge would be consumed within the dense development that was planned around the station. The bridge had to be able to compete with its surrounding so that you would know where the station entrance was. We were inspired by the grids of the 60’s modernist architecture within Croydon and this was used to develop the design for the double Vierendeel structure utilising its central spine to situate lifts and kiosks. Vibrant colours for the lift shafts to aide wayfinding especially as platforms tend to be both cluttered and congested.

East Croydon station bridge by Hawkins\Brown

East Croydon station bridge by Hawkins\Brown

Source: Image by Tim Crocker

East Croydon station bridge by Hawkins\Brown

Croydon has a long legacy of illuminating its infamous 60s buildings and therefore we developed the design of the bridge to ensure that when lit its structure was revealed.

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing new footbridges for Network Rail’s estate?

Critical to the success of any rail asset is to ensure that the design is developed to enable Network rail to safely maintain the structures; however, this should not restrict the creative ambition for their design. The structures are an extension of the civic realm, used by hundreds of people of daily therefore design a structure that is simple to use yet inspire joy.

East Croydon station bridge by Hawkins\Brown

East Croydon station bridge by Hawkins\Brown

Source: Image by Tim Crocker

East Croydon station bridge by Hawkins\Brown

 

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