Breathing new life into New Street
We spent seven years transforming one of Britain’s worst stations into one of its best by building a stunning, cathedral-like atrium that floods passengers with daylight.
Birmingham New Street station refurbishment Project summary
Alejandro Zaera-Polo & Maider Llaguno, Atkins, Faithful & Gould
- Start date
- August 2008
- End date
- September 2015
Stations are increasingly becoming destinations in their own right, acting as a catalyst for inner city regeneration. Birmingham New Street station and Grand Central’s redevelopment has boosted daily passenger capacity from 170,000 to 240,000 as well as dramatically improving the overall passenger experience.
Every week the team had to solve challenges due to the complexity of a station located in the city centre with trains arriving or departing every 37 seconds, as well as issues such as crumbling 1960s concrete and the presence of significant asbestos. As Network Rail’s Delivery Partner we built ‘one team’ with us, our client and the design team collaborating to overcome these and many other challenges.
The new station concourse is five times the size of the original station with a striking triple height atrium topped with a ‘bubble’ roof made from ETFE, a fluorine-based plastic. Sitting above the station, is Grand Central, Birmingham’s newest premium shopping destination housing more than 60 new stores and a major new 23,000 square metre John Lewis store.
Points of note
Removing challenging asbestosThe existing station building had high levels of asbestos. We drew up an asbestos management strategy and led a team who worked 60,000 hours to remove it safely. This impacted the programme and the overall budget but was essential before demolition works could commence.
A heavy weight to bearOur lead designer and specialist engineers worked with us to design a method to transfer 200 tonnes of steel onto the existing concrete roof. Taking place over two weekends in 2015, this heralded the start of us forming our signature atrium roof.
From two weeks to 57 hoursTo move a temporary modular passenger tunnel, we used our 3D building information modelling (BIM) and lean construction techniques to test and streamline construction and installations sequences. We reduced the initial two-week programme to just 57 hours with no station closures.
‘Mega Muncher’ reduces programme from 12 months to 6We joined forces with a local demolition contractor to develop a bespoke, remote controlled excavator called the ‘Mega Muncher’. By enabling us to crush concrete quietly, we could work on site 24/7 and cut our planned programme to remove 6,000 tonnes of concrete from 12 months to just 6.
Modular services save time and costWe developed a modular ‘service spine’ that was prefabricated off site in 24 modules and installed in just 15 days. This innovation alone saved over 10,000 working hours on site and reduced carbon emissions by 57%.
Fostering health, safety and wellbeingWe truly believed in the importance of health, safety and wellbeing of our workforce. We drove the right behaviours throughout our supply chain by setting KPIs and running market-leading initiatives.
“Passengers using the station are ‘significantly happier with their station experience’.”
“The station redevelopment has been a key project for the city, stimulating economic growth and regeneration. This is sure to have a catalytic effect on further regeneration of the city centre and attracting businesses to Birmingham.”
“The work Network Rail has done with Mace to develop Birmingham New Street station has been extraordinary. Together we have transformed a dark, unwelcoming and overcrowded station with poor access for passengers beyond recognition.”