Austin-Smith: Lord recently came runner up in a high profile bus station competition in Stoke-on-Trent, winning the public vote but not selected by the client.
The Austin Smith Lord team, consisting of JMP Transport Engineers, Curtins Structural Engineers and Hilson Moran on Environmental and M&E were supported in the provision of costs by Gleeds and Project Management input from RLB ,worked closely in the 4 week design period to develop an exciting and innovative scheme which found favor with both the public and their peers.
An Austin Smith Lord headed team were recently chosen from over 43 entrants to take part in a limited invitation design competition with 5 other teams from international opposition for Stoke on Trent City Bus Station.
Selected Architectural practices included Zaha Hadid, Grimshaws, Wilkinson Eyre, John McAslan and BDP with Engineering support from Arup, Aecom, Mott Macdonald, and Max Fordham.
The team took an early decision to re‐analyse the earlier feasibility work carried out on the site in order to see if it was possible to meet the operational capacity requirements of the brief without using the Drive in Reverse out layouts contained therein as it was felt that the risk of an accident in a drive through solution would be fundamentally lower given the nature of the site.
Working with local transport engineers and a panel of national advisors the team developed a strategy building on the layout being installed at Wolverhampton, which we knew worked having driven it in 2 days of live trials at the NEC, with a 14 bay dive through facility both meeting and exceeding the requirements set out in the brief with an additional strategy for expansion to add another 30% capacity should it be required in the future.
In addition to the innovative operational form ( the Austin Smith Lord team were the only team to suggest an alternative non reversing layout) the team proposed a thin concrete curved shell like canopy echoing the potteries history of the City with manufacturers such as Spode and Wedgewood at the heart of the world Chinaware Industry. The station enclosure provides shelter from rain and snow while meeting sustainable aspirations through use of natural ventilation, rainwater‐harvesting, and air‐source heat pumps.
The team worked closely with Gleeds to ensue the cost plan was robust and under the 15 million pound budget and to give the client confidence in the figures we utilised tender returns for sub contract packages on another local similar scheme.
Following the formal submission the team were delighted to see we topped both the Council’s own public vote and the Architects’ Journal peer vote when the schemes were anonymously placed on websites for an X factor style vote on the preferred solution. Project Director and Transport Cornerstone Richard Cronin said:
“It was good to get the recognition of the public and our peers, however we do take this kind of thing in the spirit in which it was intended. It was a welcome diversion to come in and see how we were doing whilst we waited for the interview and it gave us a lift knowing we were obviously doing something right.”
Unfortunately the practice were successful in the final selection with Grimshaw Architects being appointed by the Council and the Developer for the adjacent East West Centre who are partially funding the scheme. However, upbeat Richard Cronin commented:
“It was a pleasure to take part in such a challenging and interesting exercise and to see how the other teams approached the problems posed by the site both in terms of its operational layout and its historical mining use. We knew that looking at a drive through solution was a riskier option but were genuinely feel it was the right solution for that site, utilizing the ring road and ensuring separation of the passengers’ from the buses was key to our approach and we pride ourselves on our ability to take another look at the problem to try and see if there is a better way of doing it, That’s what we as Austin Smith Lord bring to clients in the sector, it’s about a full understanding of the operational issues and ability to analyse the patterns of use to deliver the safest and best architecture at the right price”.