In Progress: Birmingham Gateway Plus by FOA/ Alejandro Zaera-Polo

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of the construction phase of the transformation of the New Street Station — also known as Gateway Plus —, in Birmingham, United Kingdom, designed by FOA — now, in case you missed it, separated into two agencies, respectively Alejandro Zaera-Polo Architects (AZPA) and Farshid Moussavi Architecture (FMA). As the construction is in progress, I will focus only on two aspects the atrium roof and the facade.
Master Plan of the New Street Station, Birmingham, United Kingdom © FOA

We know that the building features a foyer of open space with a multi-storey entrance. The two mentioned interesting points concern: firstly the curved roof which announced to be completely in lightweight, self-cleaning ETFE to allow natural light to enter the entrance hall. Speculations forecast that this roof will profit from advanced technologies to provide best materials so that natural light will be diffused within the building; Secondly, the massive facade that would wrap the building.
Model of the New Street Station © FOA

If we have a glance at the model, the roof bubbles are promising in a way in that it would allow for the diffusion of natural light within the building, an aspect which appears to be the key element to this renovation. The former station suffered from a serious lack of natural light for over 40 years.
Southern view of the New Street Station © FOA

The atrium is announced to form with centrepiece of the new station and will be as high as eight double decker buses. Adams Kara Taylor will be in charge of the structural engineering of the atrium space. This space will consist of a matrix of enormous stainless ribs that will support the translucent roof bubbles.
Model © FOA
> The model shows the rounded form of the roof structure of the atrium which looks like bubbles.
Hence this nickname of 'roof bubbles'. A matrix of enormous stainless ribs
will maintain the roof bubbles.

The steelwork would form the atrium roof which is round in form. The atrium will be 3,300 square meters in total and is announced to cover an area 13 times the size of the centre court at Wimbledon.
Atrium —rendering © FOA
> The atrium roof structure clad in lightweight, self-cleaning ETFE permits
the diffusion of natural light inside the building.
The arcade-like atrium is designed to facilitate circulation of
pedestrians and travelers.

Lightweight, self-cleaning ETFE is the principal material in the roof structure. Glass was announced to be used as main material but the specificity of the ETFE membrane known to be resilient, recyclable, ultra-lightweight, durable, flexible and versatile appears to be more appropriate in response to the environmental constraints. So AKT opts for this material to cover this light filled atrium space.
Roof plan © FOA
> The giant atrium would cover a rectangular box that would
be adjusted to fit over the platforms.

It can withstand moderately high temperature for a long period of time, and has self-cleaning properties. So, this is much better than glass to prevent from overheating in hot summers.

Birmingham Gateway Plus, Birmingham © FOA
> The building will be clad in a polished stainless steel. The reflective mirrored surface
is announced to be capable of withstanding bright sunlight

The massive façade. It would have rounded edges and will be clad in stainless steel. Seeing the renderings, this undulating façade looks fascinating but massive with its rectangular grid. The geometry of the façade appears to be inspired by the exterior spaces. It would be programmed to conceal the future plant areas on the roof. Once again, AKT will be in charge of the facade structure. These undulating stainless steel panels will wrap the building from platform level upwards.
Plan of the Concourse © FOA

The goal of this façade would be to make the building act as the landmark of the city of Birmingham. Therefore it will wrap around the existing car park. As Neil Elkes of The Birmingham Post reports, this wrapping reflective stainless steel skin would prevent pedestrians and trains drivers from bright lights.
Axonometric view of Concourses plan viewed from south-west © FOA
Concourse, Atrium, Lower Retail Interface, render © FOA
The final construction is due to be completed by 2015.

Building Facts
Project: Birmingham New Street Station
Architects: FOAAlejandro Zaera-Polo
Project Architects: Christof Trenner, Tommaso Franzolini, Charles VallaDesign
Team: Lola Fernandez, Tobias Jewson, Sukyeong Kim, Niklavs Paegle, Carmen Sagredo, Takero Sato, Penny Sperbund, Christof Trenner
Structural Engineers: AKT
Service Engineers: Hoare Lea
Location: Birmingham
Client: Network Rail, Advantage West Midlands, Centro and Birmingham City Council
Construction Start Date: 2010
Year of Completion: Phase 1 - by 2012, Phase 2 - by 2015
Renders © FOA

Source: Birmingham New Street, Birmingham Post

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