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47


BUILDING PROJECTS


RAILWAY STATION CONCOURSE & HOTEL DUNDEE


On a learning curve


With the new V&A museum plus a regenerated waterfront, Dundee was in dire need of a new station with the right presence. James Parker describes how the architects steered an evolving project that produced an unconventional concourse building topped by a hotel.


A


victim of transport planning riding roughshod over urban environmental quality in the 1960s,


Dundee’s waterfront is now being reinvented. Dramatically catalysed by the arrival of architect Kengo Kuma’s avant-garde V&A museum which opened earlier this year, the area is unrecognisable. What was a series of roundabouts and sub-standard buildings is becoming a people-friendly new district that reunites the town with the river Tay.


© Paul Zanre


The area now has an unconventionally- shaped new combined train station concourse building and 120-room ‘Sleeperz’ hotel, welcoming swelling visitor numbers to the city who are particularly lured by the V&A. Dundee practice Nicoll Russell Studios building is essentially a series of arches curved on plan and in section, and is something of a product of the engineering complexity that often characterises rail sector projects. As well as the resulting building’s form, this is an unusual project in that it’s a rail station commissioned by the city council. Project architect for Nicoll Russell Studios, Graham Steel, explains to ADF how it forms part of a much wider scheme to improve the waterfront: “The council had for years recognised that it was a barrier between the town centre and the Tay.” He adds: “They came up with a plan which was to create a grid of streets taking you to the river.” When the Tay road bridge was constructed in 1966, it to some degree blighted the area, with a road network leading off it constructed on reclaimed land, plus now-demolished buildings including a public swimming pool, casino and hotel.


ADF FEBRUARY 2019


What were historic docks had become an eyesore.


Nicoll Russell Studios’ involvement led from their work with engineers Jacobs throughout the UK, including a bus transport interchange for Dundee City Council. It was Jacobs’ work for the council looking at how to build a road bridge over the railway line in front of the station – as part of reconfiguring the convoluted traffic system – that prompted the municipal authority to look at creating a new station concourse building, and subsequently the addition of a hotel. Steel explains: “The existing bridges were in the wrong place and weren’t strong enough. The council had always had its eye on the station as a project, so it sort of began to grow.” The scope, and thus the design brief for the project evolved considerably over the years since its inception, with the architects doing a series of studies.


Steel describes the council’s rationale for what would be a public-funded project: “The V&A was going to be constructed, but they had this relic of a station which was letting the whole thing down.” The plan to add a hotel came later, once the architects were appointed – they were looking at putting some form of accommodation over the site, and in parallel, the council was looking at hotel capacity in Dundee. “They identified there was a need, and the two things fitted together,” says Steel. The added revenue from a hotel tenant was an obvious plus, but also ties in to a clear precedent from station/hotel hybrids seen across the decades.


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