HS2 is a state-of-the-art, high-speed line critical for the UK’s low carbon transport future. It will provide much-needed rail capacity across the country, call at over 25 stations, and connect around 30 million people. The first phase of HS2 is being built now, supporting the UK’s green economic recovery and ensuring the UK is on track to achieve its commitment to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Four new stations are being delivered as part of the first phase of the project, including Interchange Station which will become a major transport gateway in the West Midlands region. The new Interchange station, to be built in Solihull and the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in the West Midlands, is the first railway station globally to achieve BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ certification – a measure of sustainability for new and refurbished buildings. It is also in the top 1% of all buildings in the UK to be assessed using this measure.
2,000m2 of solar panels
150m3rainwater harvest tank capacity
176bicycles storage capacity
Based on HS2’s ambition to build the most sustainable high-speed network in the world, designing an environmentally friendly, net zero operational station was the objective for our client and the Arup team from the very beginning. We worked in partnership with HS2 and 12 different local stakeholder organisations to foster an approach that had sustainability at its heart, using it as a mantra to systemically inform every decision and outcome. In doing so, we aimed to deliver a station that reflected its natural surroundings and provide a world-class passenger experience.
Alongside its sustainability credentials, the station will be one of the best-connected places in the UK, and passengers on the HS2 network will be able to reach London Euston in 38 minutes, Manchester in 37 minutes and Leeds in 46 minutes. The station features four platforms, as well as two central high speed through lines for non-stopping services.
Linked to the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham International Station and Birmingham Airport, an Arup-designed automated people mover (APM) will be capable of carrying up to 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction. There will be cycle storage for 176 bicycles with further room for expansion.
The station’s architectural design focuses on sustainability, maximising natural daylight and ventilation and featuring a roof which allows rainwater to be captured and redirected from the main station building via a network of underground pipes into a rainwater harvesting tank to be reused, reducing mains water demand.
Inspired by the form of a leaf, the roof skylights are orientated in a northerly direction so that they can maximise daylight while minimising heat gain inside the concourse. This will help maintain a comfortable temperature for people inside the station without an over-reliance on air-conditioning systems.
Interchange Station is an exemplar of outstanding, contextual architectural engineering, where simplicity and elegance belies a diligent and inclusive approach, incorporating state of the art sustainable design and green technologies. ” Tom Wilne Project Director, HS2 Ltd
A sustainable approach
Our design minimises embodied carbon via life cycle assessment reporting for key building materials and waste at source, through material efficiency analysis. This includes measures such as offsite fabrication and modularisation. Energy efficient technology will be incorporated, such as air source heat pumps and LED lighting. In addition, the station and Automated People Mover maintenance facility has over 2,000m2 of solar panels generating zero carbon electricity.
Alongside a focus on eco-friendly design, the design proposals embraced lowering material impacts and costs. This was done through considering the embodied carbon within key building components and their associated approach to construction. Sustainable and low-carbon materials are used throughout, such as weathering steel, whilst the use of glulam timber offers a significant embodied carbon saving of 400 tonnes versus steel. During construction, 95% of demolition material and waste will be diverted from landfill.
The station’s landscape design features sustainable drainage systems to reduce the burden on surface water drainage whilst naturally irrigating planted areas. There will be new natural habitats created around the station, leaving a legacy of biodiversity and an enhancement of native species.
One of the enduring themes the team sought to implement throughout the process was the concept of ‘touching the ground lightly.’ As the design came to life, this meant retaining and protecting the existing landscape by removing complexity, minimising the cut and fill balance and working within the site boundaries to maximise sustainability, whilst producing a design that is harmonious with its local surroundings.
Creating the world’s most sustainable station has always been at the heart of HS2’s design vision and Interchange’s sustainability credentials are testament to everything we have been working towards. ” Kim Quazi Lead ArchitectLearn more about our rail architecture experience
Creating a legacy
Our vision for station design is to deliver a building both for passengers and the people who work in and around the station. Our approach on the Interchange project was to ensure the design is safe, user friendly, attractive and comfortable through making all elements of the design seamless, intuitive and flowing, enabling simple, onward connections.
The entire station complex is designed for future adaptability, with features such as air source heat pumps and LED lighting, combined with the solar panels enabling net zero carbon emissions from day-to-day energy consumption.