The high-speed rail terminus station will connect Hong Kong to various major cities in the Mainland with the largest rail network in our history. Located centrally in Hong Kong within the city’s urban realm and equipped with fifteen tracks, the facility will probably be the largest below ground terminus station in the world.
Designed by Andrew Bromberg of Aedas, in collaboration with Aecom, the West Kowloon Terminus will function more like an international airport than a rail station; this means that the facility needs to have both custom and immigration controls for departing and arriving passengers.. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The site’s proximity to the future West Kowloon Cultural District and to Victoria Harbor required a design which was highly influenced by civic demand. Adding to the challenge was the planning of a 294,000 square meters of topside commercial development.
As the “gateway” to Hong Kong, it was considered vital to connect the station with the surrounding urban context and make one aware of the city’s character whether arriving or departing. In order to do this, the design efficiently compacted all of the supporting space to allow for a large void down into the departure hall below, with added apertures going down to the track platforms. The outside ground plane bends down to the hall and the roof structure above gestures toward the harbor. As a result, this focuses all attention to the south façade with views of the Hong Kong Central skyline, Victoria Peak and beyond.
The terminus station has both regional shuttle trains and long-haul high speed trains. The shuttle trains go across Hong Kong to Shenzhen, a booming Chinese border city, and further North to Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong. Research performed on civil engineering concluded that based on the urban make-up and internal site restrictions, the shuttle tracks are placed on the western side of the site, and the long-haul on the eastern side. In addition, research showed that 80% of the station users are short-haul commuters, pressuring the design to reduce travel times for these passengers as much as possible.
The design at early stage had segregated immigration, which seemed to make sense from a territorial point of view. However, this caused great inefficiencies within the planning diagram. The solution was to stack territories so that all immigration facilities for arrivals would be on one floor and all departure facilities on another. This made the inner workings easier and more efficient. Locating the immigration facilities over the short-haul tracks significantly reduced station travel time for short-haul passengers. Their location being well beneath the density of the future commercial spaces optimizes the openness of the void and the entrance building on the opposite side of the site.
The project maximizes civic gestures both internally and externally. The station is sculpted out of the energy of these moves and strongly defines the design’s focus toward Victoria Harbor and the Hong Kong skyline. The West Kowloon Cultural District is invited into the site. A large “civic plaza” opens up toward the cultural district and is defined on the other side with its own outdoor performance amphitheatre.
The pedestrian flow into this amphitheatre continues up onto the roof top of the station where there is a vegetated sculpture garden, an extension of the green below. The green space provides links flowing through the site to a Public Transport Interchange to the North, MTR Austin Station to the East, Kowloon Station Development and the shopping mall Elements to the West, as well as internal connections into the WKT itself and its future topside commercial development.
The station will be situated in the southeast corner of the site. The civic plaza will be defined by the station entrances and facilities on the east and west sides as well as adjacent paths moving up to the top of the station, into the green “roofscape”.
The culmination of these ideas is an observation deck on top of the entrance building’s crest. At the top, the perfect view acts as an extension of the journey into Hong Kong – into and beyond the West Kowloon Cultural District; Victoria Harbor and the concrete jungle of Hong Kong. The station may be visible below as a reminder of where one came from but the future paths of discovery present themselves invitingly beyond.