Partially sunken train station links China's past and future
Influential firm MAD Architects has completed work on an ambitious new train station in China. The project involved painstakingly rebuilding a 100-year-old train station brick-by-brick, which now fronts a huge modern transport hub that's partially sunken underground.
The Jiaxing Train Station (aka Train Station in the Forest) is located in Southeast China. The original station on the site was built in 1907, before being destroyed and rebuilt in 1937 and undergoing another redesign in 1995. In 2019, it was finally decided that it was too small for modern requirements and MAD was commissioned to create a future-proof replacement.
For inspiration, the studio looked to the site's past as a key transport link used in the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921. MAD decided to recreate the original train station, consulting with experts and studying old photographs and documents to try and get as close as possible to its original appearance. A total of 21,000 bricks made from mud sourced from a nearby lake were used to build it, and this now sits in front of the main facility, which is mostly underground.
"MAD envisioned a new station that would be both more humane and efficient than its predecessor," explained the Chinese studio. "The overall design of the interior maintains a dialogue with the recreated 1907 station through a glass facade that clearly expresses the height difference of the two structures from the entrance.
"The new station building's entry and exit platforms, waiting halls, and major transport and commercial functions are almost entirely taken underground, thus breaking with traditional concepts and giving birth to the 'train station in the forest' design. The renovated railway station has been expanded from three platforms and five lines to three platforms and six lines, with two arrival and departure lines on each of the upstream and downstream main lines. It is expected that by 2025, the full passenger capacity will reach 5.28 million people/year, with an hourly capacity of about 2,500 people at the peak of passenger traffic."
The sunken design of the modern infrastructure has allowed MAD to get creative with the landscaping above. Over 1,500 new trees have been planted and the site has been arranged to resemble rolling green hills. It connects to an existing park on the site, and a central lawn will be used as an outdoor venue for concerts and art festivals. Elsewhere, cultural and retail buildings have been added too.
The Jiaxing Train Station does boast a degree of sustainable design, with solar panels reducing the draw on the power grid and generous use of glazing to maximize natural light. Additionally, locally sourced materials were used in the build.