Epping to Chatswood Rail Link

Our brief was to design the next generation of transportation excellence. We sought to create safe, efficient and inviting rail stations that seamlessly fuse architecture and engineering into a series of memorable transport nodes that capture the spirit and excitement of travel. We aspired to create infrastructure that is civic in character, quality and purpose, a transformative and urbane project for our city.

The ECRL stations connect to dormitory suburbs in Sydneys west and north-west, providing additional capacity of 12,000 rail passengers a day. They serve existing high technology, commercial office, educational and retail centres and act as catalysts for urban redevelopment along the strategic global arc employment corridor.

The project context is two-fold; the existing and future environment at the surface and the ground conditions below. Distinctive glass pavilions signal the presence of the stations and accent a landscaped public domain which interfaces with kiss n ride, bus drop off and pedestrian thoroughfares. By locating the passenger concourse 25 metres underground arterial roads and private property remained largely unaffected during construction. This arrangement facilitates low cost station operations and management by allowing surveillance over platforms and the ticket hall from a single location. The excavated volume of the entrance cavern was retained rather than backfilled to capture a generous, naturally top-lit transition experience. The vaulted forms of the twin caverns reflect the self-stabilising method of their construction in sandstone, while the asymmetric cross-section minimised costly excavation.

Each pavilion marks a welcoming point of entry, its curved spine tracing the invited path of travel. The pavilions transparent louvered cladding reveals the public domain, directs controlled daylight to the concourse level below, encourages the flow of air, shelters escalators and maintains connection with activity on the surface. Glass lifts reveal their occupants and promote surveillance. Alcoves are eliminated, balustrades are glazed and passenger movement is direct with clear lines of sight.

Engineering and station architecture are one. The entrance pavilions become lanterns at night while lighting below ground is predominantly indirect to increase perceived light levels and room volume, and to eliminate threatening shadows. Aluminium ceilings are acoustically absorptive to enhance intelligibility, and robust blades and transparent glass curtains manage smoke in the event of train fire. The station linings, lighting and components preserve the continuous curve of the cavern soffit which in turn describes an intuitive route to the surface without the need for conspicuous or excessive signage. Ventilation fans, plant and safe egress stairs are grouped and housed in discreet service buildings at the surface.

Rail travel is itself, inherently sustainable. Notwithstanding, the stations public areas are ventilated by train movement, energy-saving daylight is invited to concourse level and the thermal mass of the surrounding rock stabilises temperature and purges heat build-up.

The generosity of space brings an ambience of quiet order to the stations which are customer focussed, meeting the demands of mass transit and accommodating the special needs of individuals. The stations have a 100 year design life and are an important investment in Sydneys future.

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