Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thinking Beyond The Station: Aguascalentes City Suburban Train : By RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo

RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo
Post By:Kitticoon Poopong
Image © Courtesy of RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo
Thinking Beyond The Station: Aguascalentes City Suburban Train is the latest project by Mexico City-based architecture office RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo. The project was further developed from the original brief which was only to design a suburban train connecting Arellano to the south of the state with Rincon de Romos to the North. A very good attempt of giving unique identity and interesting spatial experience to each station where is not only to accommodate transit facilities, but also to reinforce the surrounding urban fabric through the architectural strategies.
"We see stations as urban generators of activity. We want to make traveler´s experience as a journey through different pieces in the urban landscape, conceived to give identity and meaning within the urban fabric."
RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo
Image © Courtesy of RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo
Today cities claim for responsive architects, a responsible architecture to build better cities. The project you are about to see benefits one million inhabitants and will transport up to 30 million passenger per year. Aguascalientes City suburban train makes strong emphasis in the capacity of infrastructure in building responsive cities, able to support placemaking and create walkable, healthy and sustainable communities.
Our city is located at the geographical core of Mexico with 1 million inhabitants, structured in three concentric vehicular rings surrounding the historic centre. 1914 Convention is ring 1, Aguascalientes boulevard is ring 2 and siglo XXI ring 3. The railway infrastructure cuts through the city from south to north representing a unique opportunity for building communities through transportation, reinforcing and creating public spaces and corridors for development.
We were asked by local authorities specifically Aguascalientes Transportation Minister to design a suburban train connecting Arellano to the south of the state with Rincon de Romos to the North. The first six stations are located in the urban area along 16 kilometers and 5 stations on the suburban area to complete 47 kilometers. Two transport modal interchanges are located on siglo XXI south and siglo XXI north stations. Here is where mayor buses from urban and suburban routes feed the suburban train system. 45 routes to the north and 25 to the south. We see this asan extraordinary opportunity for making this project act as catalyst for urban development.
Image © Courtesy of RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo
We wanted to go beyond what our clients asked, seeing infrastructure as architecture and started asking ourselves what could be different in this project to make possible a radical urban transformation? What if all stations were different as urban and architectural pieces able to attract people living around them? How could we make a design and a strategy where different station typologies answered questions as accessibility, functioning as articulators with the city fabric and with the social and physical particularities of site conditions? Therefore we created four typologies in response to accessibility for pedestrians, urban and suburban bus routes, urban plot disposition and its articulation with the historic context.
We want to make this project and urban and architectural statement, seeing Aguascalientes as a model city where its infrastructure triggers an extraordinary urban turn with a huge socioeconomic positive impact.
We call it THINKING BEYOND THE STATION, the city before and after the train, we induce transit facilities as articulators of social and urban fragmentation, positioning Aguascalientes in the Regional map for best cities to live and invest.
Image © Courtesy of RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo
Station Typology
We see stations as urban generators of activity. We want to make traveler´s experience as a journey through different pieces in the urban landscape, conceived to give identity and meaning within the urban fabric.
  1. Compact steel skeleton for stations in suburban areas. Maintenance Depot
  2. Station-Retail Building
  3. Modal Interchange Stations: Siglo XXI Norte y Siglo XXI Sur Stations
  4. Central Station
Project components
The project is structured in 3 core areas:
  1. Railway infrastructure
  2. Stations
  3. Beyond Stations: Patio Concept Strategy and Typologies for Urban Regeneration
Image © Courtesy of RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo
Arellano Station and Maintenace Depot 
This station is located at the extreme south part of the city, next to Nissan Assembly Facilities. The proposal aims to create a compact piece that solves pedestrian flows from both sides along the tracks, we wanted to make a light structure but at the same time strong enough to be remarkable in users memory. This piece gives accessibility to inhabitants and workers from immediate housing and industrial developments. It also gives access to suburban buses from south routes creating a platform to the west side of the station right next to Nissan. The station is a compact steel skeleton supporting photovoltaic panels.
Siglo XXI South Station 
Located at the third vehicular ring, it is a strategic position for feeder routes from the south part of the city. A piece that rearticulates exchanges and flows, people crossing from one side of the tracks to the other, from train to bus station, private cars and taxis facilities.
This flows shape a single elevated structure where they interact.
We tried to create a piece of architecture able to work as a public bridge, a bridge that is at the same time station, passenger facilities and connector between the station and bus platform. It integrates activities and pedestrian flows from both sides of the station.
We also wanted a strong piece conceived to give identity to train system users, bus travelers and local passengers. As a self contained piece its covered with corten steel as a permeable façade, because we found very important to express the materiality of this building as something that resembles the essence of the old train cars and facilities running along the freight line. With siglo XXI North it represents a transportation hub for the city, with retail facilities, shops and restaurants, bus station platform for urban, intercity and suburban routes.
Image © Courtesy of RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo

Aguascalientes South Station 
Located at the second vehicular ring at Aguascalientes Boulevard. Our proposal aims to create a compact urban piece able to attract people from the surrounding areas, nearby a quite dense part of the central core. We wanted it to be a very urban building connecting people and making sense of “place” therefore this permeable elevated structure very synthesized, is internally altered by an elliptical cavity, a patio is created to make an open living room where people can stay, board buses or simply protect from the aggressive sun rays that are characteristic of local weather conditions, where temperatures raise up to 40 degrees from march to July. This piece is at the same time station, retail spaces and offices integrated around this patio.
We materialize this building as a light concrete structure; a sequence of brise-soleis surrounds the building making it a continual facade.
Image © Courtesy of RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo

Central Station. Tres Centurias Complex 
Located in “TresCenturias Historic Complex” and registered at TICCIH “The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage”. We use the station as a vehicle for total urban regeneration, valuable railway infrastructure and maintenance depots have been identified and even started working converting old warehouses into Aguascalientes school of arts and official local government offices and citizens information modules. Current conditions evidence total urban fragmentation between east and west sides of the complex, Gomez Morin avenue cuts through this part of the city and any physical connection is not possible, it even has reinforced urban disarticulation with the historic centre and within the same railway complex. We understand the historic context importance and its value to insert into the project a strong piece of architecture that rearticulates exchanges, flows and the entire urban fabric, as an opportunity to reinvent this part of the city and reinsert it into a new corridor for development. It is translated into an elliptical pedestrian RING and train station that symbolizes integration of diversity, integration of past and future.
A new landmark for the city where passengers, workers and communities around them are INTEGRATED without spatial barriers, it functions as a bridge, as an urban balcony that OFFERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO LIVE THAT VALUABLE CONTEXT AND frames INNEDIT views from TresCenturias complex.
We need to think beyond the station to the communities that host them, besides the chance to improve mobility; we first focus on accessibility and connecting people and places, articulating and reconstructing what is fragmented. Our intervention considers a series of patio typologies hosting diverse facilities beyond stations. It includes retail, office space, low income housing and culture articulated by pedestrian paths and diverse new public spaces.
This strategy allows us to capture the value of public transportation investments for local communities triggering new interactivity and public spaces. We propose these typologies for the urban regeneration of Central Station area and its connectivity with “TresCenturias Complex.
With this decision we encourage development to the east side of the Historic Centre, reinforcing an existing corridor through historic squares and buildings. Abandoned buildings are converted into other uses strategically located at the west side of the station and with qualities that can be exploited.
Image © Courtesy of RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo

Aguascalientes North Station 
Located at the edge of the second ring but to the north part of the city. This is a patio concept building as Aguascalientes Sur, what is different is its connection with the city fabric. We again express our position to make something remarkable in the landscape and in traveler´s experience.
Siglo XXI South Station 
Located at the edge of the third ring but to the north part of the city, it represents the second modal interchange station where most of the state mobility will be exchanged between the suburban train system and urban and suburban feeder routes. We see massive exchange as an opportunity to develop this piece of architecture, a building that is shaped by pedestrian flows, it encourages the possibility to move very fast from train platform to bus platform but at the same time offers a living room and retail facilities reinforcing traveler´s experience.
Suburban Station;San Francisco, Pabellon De Arteaga and Rincon De Romos
The railway system along 47 kilometers gives accessibility to inhabitants of three municipalities to the north part of the state. They will be integrated as key settlements within a metropolitan dynamic for the next 30 years. Therefore we propose an scenario for the future as a possible model of urban growth control, transit oriented development and strategic densification give a chance to avoid sprawl and unsustainable agglomeration and foresees a more compact sustainable city. The suburban train triggers a strategy for making radical city transformation and envisions a model city seeing infrastructure as urbanism.
Image © Courtesy of RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo
Aguascalientes city: an urban scenario for year 2030 
Stations function as a flexible system interconnecting different flows. Create pedestrian and green corridors to give accessibility to local communities around them.
Aguascalientes city will be transformed from a local position to an internationally recognized and competitive city. We see infrastructure as architecture, playings a key role through its capacity for building sustainable cities.
The city moves from a private car agglomeration to a sustainable well interconnected fabric. Encourages historic city regeneration socially and physically articulated. We trigger a mixed uses regeneration strategy along the 47 kilometers railway system axis running south-north of the city.
We lead aguascalientes from a 1 million compact city with a massive transportation system which integrates fragmentation and alleviates congestion. Urban growth will be controlled and monitored for the next 40 years to reach 1.5 million inhabitants for year 2040 trough strategic diversification.
Image © Courtesy of RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo
The people
Architect: RVDG arquitectura + urbanismo
Location: Mexico
Building Responsive Cities: Aguascalientes City Suburban Train, Mexico
Images: © Courtesy of RVdG arquitectura + urbanismo
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