University Station

West Midlands Combined Authority, Transport for West Midlands, Network Rail

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Project Value:

£40 million


Key Points

New Gateway to University and QE Hospital

Increased passenger capacity up to 7 million per year

Within the setting of a Scheduled Ancient Monument

High-profile stakeholders and statutory bodies

A New Gateway

This landmark scheme provided a brand new and much improved gateway to both the University of Birmingham, the nearby QE Hospital building. Increasing the passenger capacity to 7 million per year.

Associated Architects provided Architectural and Landscape Design services to this prestigious station redevelopment scheme, with a brief to deliver a ‘magnificent’ new station with significantly enhanced capacity which became ‘the key move’ in the planning strategy for the wider area. We were appointed by WMCA to build upon the work undertaken by a previous design team who had developed a scheme to GRIP 3 Options Selection, and we worked on the scheme through to GRIP 8 alongside the delivery partner.

The scheme provided a new-build station, comprehensive landscaping scheme, together with provision of a new canal footbridge which provided a new connection into the adjacent University campus, whilst the existing station remained operational throughout.

Unlocking Potential

The site is within the setting of a Scheduled Ancient Monument and involves close engagement with a wide range of stakeholders including Historic England, the University, NHS Trust, Canal & Rivers Trust, Birmingham City Council and others.

The main risks to the project related to the high-profile stakeholders and statutory bodies who had a broad range of (sometimes contradictory) priorities which had to be successfully resolved to unlock the potential of the project. Joining the project team at GRIP 3 meant inheriting an earlier design and investigations which were based on a very different set of requirements and so a meticulous and collaborative approach, testing previous assumptions and providing alternative design strategies in line with our brief to provide fresh and insightful design direction. Cultivating collaborative and constructive relationships with existing and new partners has enabled us to progress the scheme significantly and rapidly, in line with the client’s ambitious requirements.

During the early stages of our involvement in the project, the budget availability and project scope was been in flux and our approach was to develop robust design proposals which have within them options for how they could be realised and delivered technically, whilst maintaining the scheme’s design integrity and essential functionality. Consideration of integrated improvements to the broader public realm beyond the immediate project boundary were vital aspect of the project, given the wide range of stakeholders and adjacent land-uses. These were carried out as independent projects in order to avoid uncontrolled scope-creep and enabled project costs to be managed.


Clear Design Thinking

We brought an enthusiasm and proactive approach that drove significant progress. We married that with rigorous research and clear design thinking that unlocked solutions to resolve crucial areas of potentially conflicting design requirements and stakeholder interests. We supported the client by providing a wide range of visually engaging presentation materials, tailored to the various audiences, to raise the profile of the scheme and were instrumental in obtaining the necessary buy-in from project partners.

Our scheme design proposals were generated with customer experience as a key driver – safety and inclusivity being foundations of a positive customer experience. Requirements for inclusive access to vertical circulation and optimising safe circulation arrangements for out-of-hours and off-peak times of day were integral and are reflected in fundamental design decisions. Sustainability was considered with a broad range of durability, low maintenance, PV, and careful consideration to heated and unheated spaces.

By collaborating closely with the Lead Designer consultants, who provided Engineering Assurance to the scheme, ensured deliverability within the complex constraints of the railway infrastructure.