The tracks run smack dab through the middle of Newport and as a result, each side might as well be its own city. Newport’s previous station was inadequate for modern rail travelers with a station only on one side of the tracks forcing passengers to walk a long distance to alight a train going in the opposite direction. The goal of the new station was foremost to improve rail service, but secondly, to serve as a gateway to the city, which is the first Welsh city after leaving England and right before Cardiff.
Grimshaw’s solution was to build a station that spanned both sides of the tracks, creating a concourse on either side and a bridge to connect passengers to the middle platform. But rather than create bridges separate from the station, the walkways and concourses are one continuous spiraling building. Walkways, ramps, bridges and the ticket offices all seamlessly connect to provide an easily navigable and intuitive pathway for passengers.
Each concourse is egg-shaped and is constructed of a framing system of prefabricated ribs that when put together resemble a bird cage. The exterior is coated with aluminum cladding, glass and an ETFE membrane allowing daylight to stream into the concourse and passenger bridges. From the outside, the rail station is shiny and metallic, but seen from the point of view of passenger walking through, it is full of light and airy. At night, lights from within flow out through the transparent facade and serve as a beacon for passengers.
Daylighting is just one part of the energy efficiency strategy of the rail station. Overall energy usage was designed to be minimal and only small portions of the station are heated or cooled as necessary utilizing Low Nox condensing boilers which feed under floor heating. An underground Awadukt system draws air for preheating or precooling purposes and ventilation louvers on the domed roof let hot air escape while cool air from below is drawn in. Additionally, rainwater harvesting has been incorporated on both the north and south terminals and the collected water is stored in tanks for use in toilets.
The Newport Rail Station was completed in September of 2010 just in time for the important golf tournament, the Ryder Cup, which took place in October.
Images ©Ken Price & Grimshaw