Corby Rail Station
Old Station Yard, Station Road, Corby
New train station in Corby, Northamptonshire. Designed by Network Rail.
23 September 2007
We are grateful that this scheme has been referred to us given its national significance. It is extremely positive that Corby will now benefit from a train station to serve its growing population and support the long term regeneration planned for the town. However, we do not believe the proposals make for a worthy transport interchange for the town.
We acknowledge Corby has been offered a standard prototype station to be rolled out nationally. As such, we are disappointed that Network Rail has decided to promote a station model of such low quality. We think this could be a lesson in how a relatively modest building could benefit from committed design thinking despite a limited budget. However, the lack of quality and imagination presented in the architectural approach is of particular concern to us, and we believe it sets a poor precedent for the rollout of similar stations across the country.
The proposal does not appear to be an intelligent response to a building of this type. There is no evidence of strong design thinking and little indication to suggest the concept has been considered as an integrated whole. This can be read in the awkward junction between the station building and the canopy and poor siting of the railings and street furniture in relation to the station structure. There is also a lack of finesse to the elevations, as illustrated by the mismatch between doors and panels. Taken together, these shortcomings lend the station an ungainly and impoverished form. The opportunity should be taken to revisit the palette of materials for the station building to strengthen its presence and ensure it performs the vital function of announcing Corby as a destination.
In our view, a better station prototype can be generated in this short timescale that demonstrates robust industrial design can be adaptable to local context - not least in terms of site layout - and go hand in hand with good architecture. We would recommend further exploration of the potential for a kit of parts that could be assembled to deal with the functional requirements of a station, retain a strong identity for Network Rail and still be adaptable to different site conditions and needs.
It is understood that the Area Action Plan for the town centre highlighted the desire to implement a direct east/west link from the station to the town centre (identified as Central Avenue) and we would expect this to be provided to forge strong pedestrian links between the two. Equally, we would encourage a closer dialogue between the design teams coordinating the station building and public realm to ensure they relate better to one another. In our view, the layout gives primacy to vehicular movement and is an over-engineered solution; locating a coach park and car parking so close to the station entrance will create a poor first impression. The visitor experience should be more welcoming and this can only be achieved by creating a more generous and convivial public space outside the station that heightens one's sense of arrival. The nature and character of the public realm will owe much to the choice of materials and planting. Whilst we are pleased to see that these elements have been considered, they don't address the fundamental shortcomings relating to site layout and design.
For the reasons stated above we do not think this proposal should be granted planning permission or be rolled out as a prototype. We understand the necessity to move forward quickly and we would be happy to facilitate a meeting to discuss the way forward.