People, Place and Time
Churchman Thornhill Finch designed the landscape for the recently submitted planning application for HS2’s Interchange Station. Located on the south western edge of Birmingham, this station, occupying a 150 hectare site, is a truly landscape led proposition which draws on the local Arden countryside for its inspiration. Working with architects and engineers of Arup, Churchman developed a concept that managed to reconcile and humanise macro scale engineering structures within a constable-esque rural idiom.
On completion the station will accommodate up to 7400 cars at any one time, while passengers will embark on and alight from 10 trains per hour. HS2s vision, structured around three defining goals, People, Place and Time has provided the framework within which Interchange and the wider HS2 project will be expected to operate.
Bordered by the M42 motorway, the A45 and the A452 Chester Road, the triangular site lies to the immediate west of the National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham Airport. It sits within, and on the edge of Birmingham’s Green Belt with suburban neighbourhoods to the north while a rural landscape punctuated by small villages extends to the south.
Churchman’s approach captures the essence of the Warwickshire landscape of small fields, enclosed by hawthorn hedges punctuated by oak trees and with the all-pervading presence of surface water, arising from the heavy clay soils. These characteristics have been woven into the unforgiving and inflexible highway geometries of car parks and access roads, Churchman’s strategy being to create fields of cars surrounded by the same iconic features as the wider landscape.
Biodiversity is celebrated through the use of the signature native tree species supplemented by more unusual natives, notably crab apples, wild pear and plum. These are set within 12Kms of native hedges featuring a mix of blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel, dogwood, dog rose and elder. Even heathland creation has been contemplated for trackside areas where vegetation height is restricted.
The blue green infrastructure is celebrated with 5 new attenuation basins, 7 Kms of ditch and one permanent water body immediately adjacent to the station.
The design also seeks to embrace new technologies and new concepts around green infrastructure. A partnership with The Birmingham Institute of Forestry Research has led to the study of the benefits of green infrastructure in mitigating air quality issues, both within the site and at a sub-regional level.
The result of the team’s endeavours is its sustainable credentials through the awarding of a BREEAM excellent rating which is now reflected in recognition through awards processes including its selection as the winner of the 2020 World Architecture News Award for a transport infrastructure project.