Rail Stations as Urban Catalysts: Evolving Strategies for Transport Project Design

Gianluca Racana
Zaha Hadid Architects, London

Rail stations are not only transportation projects, but city-wide social and economic catalysts that require creative thinking and creative place-making. Train stations were places of wonder in the 19th century, symbolizing technological progress and economic power, awe-inspiring in their size and architecture. Nowadays, as passenger numbers increase, rail is playing a central role in urban life again, and the economic and cultural importance of stations is increasing. A need for high-quality, beautiful, yet flexible stations integrated into their urban context, has emerged.

This renaissance brings new expectations and requires evolving design strategies to create dynamic, multifunctional spaces where people can do much more than start or end a journey. The aim is to create destinations in their own right, providing space for everything from shopping and eating, to libraries, medical centers and cinemas.

Rail and metro stations are powerful catalysts for urban regeneration. More than ever, stations are symbols of a place, and need to be seamlessly integrated into the personalities of the cities in which they are located.

This presentation focused on several global case studies in transport infrastructure design, and explored some of the strategies to transform the station buildings into a destination itself, a place where locals and tourists congregate for inspiration, engagement and opportunities.