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Reverse Beeching

Thanks to Dr Beeching’s 1963 report, the UK railway infrastructure is one third smaller than it was in the 1950s. Car ownership was then relatively rare and branch lines connected some of the most remote rural areas in a physical way that a sporadic bus service never could. Today Britain’s railways are the fastest growing in Europe as Beeching’s process is put into reverse. Passenger numbers are surging due to congested roads and high fuel prices.

Our proposal is to take an active part in reversing Beeching by investigating disused lines and stations in Britain and finding new ways of re-building them.

Constructed Atmosphere

Experiencing a building or a city in a certain atmosphere is as crucial to its perception as its precise materiality. The busy morning rush hour feels very different from the last train.

Roy Andersson’s film ‘Songs from the Second Floor’ took four years to make and was filmed largely as a series of long takes. Andersson constructed sets of exaggerated perspectives in his studio 24 complex in Stockholm for his dejected characters to haunt. A bleak and surreal world bathed in subdued blues and greens.

We are interested in atmosphere, how it is made deliberately in a controlled environment such as a studio or experienced in a real situation contingent on many outside factors. Architects often have to visualise an artefact that is yet to exist as a persuasive argument that it should exist, constructing the atmosphere of a fictional reality.

Structures and Infrastructures

The main project of the year will be to design a suburban or small town station on a re-opened line. The small railway station is an ideal project to explore structure, cladding and three-dimensional connections, above and below the datum of the railway line and with the surrounding context. Themes of sustainability and conservation, old and new building will be investigated. Models will be produced at different scales to materialise the project in context and detail. The atmospheric image will be key.

Study Trip

The Norwegian Railway Board employed some of the country’s best young architects at the start of their careers. We will travel north to visit recently completed railway architecture and meet the architects behind the projects.