Text description provided by the architects. Grimshaw, in association with Atkins, are redesigning Newport Station as part of a citywide regeneration masterplan by Newport Unlimited. As Newport is the first city reached by passengers between England and Cardiff, the station is a highly visible structure. Network Rail were keen that the new station should provide a striking civic building that would provide a gateway opportunity not only to Newport, but to Wales herself.
Newport is bisected by the railway tracks. As a result, each half of the city has developed its own character. Grimshaw’s design embraces this divide, creating two major new concourses. The North Concourse will be on the civic side of the city and focus on the needs of commuters. The South Concourse, on the commercial side, will be for connecting travellers, daytrippers and tourists. Each terminal’s function is reflected in the distribution of ancillary facilities around the station.
Ticket facilities and platform access are split equally between the two terminals. All the main facilities at both terminals are housed in continuous ETFE and aluminium clad spirals. The spiral form of the station mirrors the journey taken within and helps to ease traffic flow by guiding the passenger from ground level up to the connecting bridge and back down onto the platforms. The use of an ETFE wrap over a steel structure not only creates a very bright and airy space but also, due to the lightness of the material, means the building requires a minimal support structure. This brightness of space is compounded by the inclusion of an oculus at the peak of each building, which doubles as a compression ring to secure the structure.
The old station had a single terminal at the end of elongated platforms and many passengers entering and exiting trains are faced with a long walk to and from the concourse. There was also very little provision for disabled access across the tracks. Therefore, the terminals and their connecting bridge have been positioned relative to the trains stopping positions, easing access and offering stronger connections to the city. Pedestrian routes surrounding the station are also being upgraded.
For the main Newport Station terminals, the aim is to complete by 2010, when Newport will play host to the most prestigious event in golf, the Ryder Cup. The upgraded station will provide for the influx of people the city expects for this event and become an icon of Newport’s ongoing regeneration.