Birmingham New Street Station: The transformation

11th June 2018

Significant investment in redeveloping the station has turned it into a magnificent 21st century transport hub.

The redeveloped Birmingham New Street Station opened its doors to passengers in September 2015, marking the end of a five-year redevelopment programme.

Three years since completion, the success of this project makes it a great example of how the regeneration of a transport hub can pave the way for a refreshed urban realm for the rest of the city too.  The new landscape design has already helped to stimulate further local regeneration.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, comments: “Birmingham New Street station has undergone a magnificent transformation to become a vibrant, spacious and bright transport hub suitable for our city, and for the people of Birmingham to be proud of.

Technical excellence, flexibility and a collaborative approach were all crucial requirements for the Atkins’ design team who engineered the award-winning station. They worked alongside consultancy and construction company, MACE and Hardscape to bring the landscaping scheme to life.

The Brief :

For former Foreign Office Architects co-founder Alejandro Zaera-Polo, the brief posed an interesting challenge: “It had to be a façade that was purely designed from the outside,” he said. “We couldn’t use the inside of the building as a driver for the design, so we decided to make it an embodiment of the flows that go through it. Information, trains, people, clouds – everything that moves is somehow embedded into the façade.” This was of particular interest to Alejandro as his own research had, for a long time, focused on the architectural “envelope” as a site of experimentation.

Paul Dalton, Senior Project Manager at consultancy and construction company Mace, stated at the time “The aim of the project was to create an inviting building that was fit for the UK’s second city and would be somewhere that local residents would be proud of. It was also important that the new design could accommodate future growth in passenger numbers.

Materials Used:

With daily footfall anticipated at over 170,000, the client team realised that the choice of hard landscaping materials needed to suit the high demands whilst also complementing the architectural aesthetics.

Working alongside Atkins, Hardscape supplied durable, hard-wearing Chinese granites for the project, including Kobra, Crystal Black and Royal White paving, setts and steps and bespoke Kobra planters and benches with stainless-steel anti-skate attachments. This contrast of colours was selected to complement the mirrored-cladding used around the entrance areas to the station.

Standout Feature

The eye-catching shiny steel façade that wraps around the station’s existing concrete frame is by far the stand-out feature, along with a new atrium. It has grabbed much media attention as a love-it-or-hate-it piece of architectural marmite. The Kobra granite benches with the stainless-steel anti-skate features also make quite an impression.

A Positive Result:

Following a five-year redevelopment programme costing £750 million, the new station design includes a new atrium, improved entrances and platforms, and a new 450,000 sq ft Grand Central shopping hub, which attracts more than 50 million visitors each year.

Sir Albert Bore, comments: “The station redevelopment has been a key project for the city, stimulating economic growth and regeneration and, with the added creation of Grand Central; it has provided one of the best-connected retail spaces in the country. This is sure to have a catalytic effect on further regeneration of the city centre and attracting businesses to Birmingham.”

Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said: “Birmingham New Street sits right at the heart of our rail network and the transformation which has taken place here is nothing short of stunning. The station is now bigger, brighter and better able to meet the needs of the growing number of people who use it each day.”

Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said: “Birmingham New Street sits right at the heart of our rail network and the transformation which has taken place here is nothing short of stunning. The station is now bigger, brighter and better able to meet the needs of the growing number of people who use it each day.”

Three interesting facts about BNSS:

  1. 60% of the rain water harvested from the façade is used to flush all the toilets in the station.
  2. 5,000 tonnes of concrete was removed from the old NCP car park to create the first half of the new concourse.
  3. Birmingham New Street is the busiest station outside London, and the busiest interchange station in the UK with a train leaving the station every 37 seconds.

Read more about its history and timeline here.

Client Team: Network Rail/Birmingham City Council/Advantage West Midlands/Centro/Department for Transport Architects: Atkins/Foreign Office Architects Main Contractors: Mace. Paving materials supplier: Hardscape