AZPML's Birmingham New Street Station renovation revealed in new images

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New photographs show the undulating form of AZPML's recently completed £750-million renovation of Birmingham New Street Station (+ slideshow).

Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML

The London firm co-founded by architects Alejandro Zaera-Polo, former dean of Princeton's School of Architecture, and Maider Llaguno, reshaped Birmingham's existing 1960s station to increase its capacity to 52 million passengers per year.

Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML

The undulating stainless-steel cladding added around the old station is based on the distorted shapes seen from moving trains.

Warped reflections of the train tracks and surrounding plaza are created by building's curving form and reflective cladding.

Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML

Large "eye-shaped" screens have been integrated into the facade to mark the four main entrances.

Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML

"The geometries of motion and the distortion of perception produced by movement have been the inspiration for the architectural expression of the project," said the architects.



"The bifurcating, undulating, smooth forms of the track field have been transferred and embedded into the geometry of the building to ornate the city and to convey its historical character as a transportation hub, where various traffic systems – such as the famous canals and the roman roads converge and overlay."

Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML

The curving aesthetic continues into the interior, where a large atrium above the station concourse is topped by seven domed skylights made from transparent ethylene tetrafluoroethylene plastic.

Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML

But when the station reopened in September 2015, Zaera-Polo criticised Network Rail for a "serious strategic mistake" in changing some of the interior materials for the project.

Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML

Zaero-Polo initially revealed plans for Birmingham New Street railway station in 2008, after winning an international competition with his former firm Foreign Office Architects (FOA).

The firm, which Zaero-Polo set up with his now ex-wife Farshid Moussavi, was also behind the design of a tile-covered building with porthole windows for London art school Ravensbourne College.

Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML

FOA disbanded in 2009 following the couple's split and Zaero-Polo set up his own studio in 2011, retaining the contract for Birmingham New Street. Llugano joined as a principal in 2013 to form AZPML, which now has offices Zurich, London and Princeton.

Photography is by Javier Callejas.


Project credits:

AZPML/FOA partner in charge: Alejandro Zaera-Polo with Manuel Eijo, Guillermo Fernandez-Abascal, Charles Valla, Christof Trenner, Tommaso Franzolini, Lola Fernandez, Sukyeong Kim, Carmen Sagredo, Takeru Sato, Penny Sperbund, Niklavs Paegle, Tobias Jewson, Mio Sato, Manuel Távora

Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML
Exploded axonometric diagram – click for larger image
Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML
Exploded axonometric diagram of the atrium – click for larger image
Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML
Floor plan – click for larger image
Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML
Section one – click for larger image
Birmingham New Street Station renovation by AZPML
Section two – click for larger image
  • nick

    Like many, I pass through this building on a regular basis. The signage (or lack of) makes it labyrinthine.

    The detailing is shockingly bad, especially the stretched ceiling system around the ETFE roof, and the reflective steel cladding on the exterior is warped and uneven. Overall, a pretty poorly executed building.

  • HeywoodFloyd

    Form already looks dated.

  • 竜皐一

    The eye on the street, Big Brother is watching you. It is moralistic.

  • MB

    I had to change at New Street recently, the first time since the renovation had been declared ‘complete’. I agree with Nick that the lack of signage makes the place so difficult to navigate.

    When I reached the concourse I had to exit through one set of ticket barriers to just find the departures board before entering through a second set of barriers to get to the platform I needed. When the signage reads something like ‘Platforms 1 – 6’ and then another ‘Platforms 4 – 12’ – how are you supposed to find the right platform?!

    The most frustrating thing is most of the platforms are still unfinished and the main problem of the underground platforms feeling dark, dingy and unpleasant has not been resolved at all.

    To me the whole thing seems to be focused around adding more ‘retail opportunities’ at the expense of actually designing a functioning railway station the city can be proud of. Yet again Birmingham falls for the bold over the functional to help nurse their civic insecurities.

  • chris

    I don’t mind the exterior. I think it is dynamic, original and well done. I agree that the detailing is atrocious in places, an internal circulation stair comes to mind. It’s just nasty and frankly embarrassing.

    The stretched ceiling was rushed for the grand opening, and unfortunately it’s not yet been resolved, which is a pity.