The Norman Foster designed Bilbao Metro is elegant and efficient. Not an easy business fitting metro access points into a old city, and the somewhat zoomorphic street entrances are about as discrete and unfussy as possible while remaining unapologetically contemporary and not without wit. The underground stations are pleasingly functional too with their sectioned concrete carapace. Calm and cocooning. It is, even more than the famously curved London Tube, like entering into the umbilica of some city-sized and recumbent and welcoming animal. The Basques, it seems, have their Taniwha too…






Photographs by Patrick Reynolds.

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      1. Not my understanding? The work for the CLR notice of requirement I have seen was very much “concept” and not even “concept” like an artist would understand it, but more like “where do we need what”. So unless there’s more work going on, I expect the “design” for our stations is about to the quality of a first-year architecture student playing with Google sketchup (though admtttedly with a lot more of the necessary “what has to go where” know-how behind it…)

        Maybe Jasmax has since taken that further, but not seen it – would be neat to use for PR purposes if it does indeed exist.

  1. The entrances really are the face of an underground station, such little cost to make such a big impact.

    I hope we can develop something unique and iconic for Auckland… and not do the bare bones cheap and nasty.

    1. It all comes down to the parameters of the design brief, and the judging panel.

      Bilbao of course is an interesting space to conduct these sorts of discussions. Among its many claims to fame is a certain iconic building designed by one Frank Gehry. And Wellington provides a recent case study that has, and will be debated by students and enthusiasts of architecture for many years to come:

      In Wellington’s case, a critical factor was the competition brief which was to select an architect, not a design. Other factors that led to today’s Te Papa would have been the need to integrate the evolving architecture with the requirements drawn up by the museum staff, commercial construction risk, earthquake mitigation, and of course the personalities on the judging who selected the winning entry…..and determined that the Athfield/Gehry/Thompson entry never made it past the first round.

      Coming back to the CRL, even if the overall civil engineering ends up becoming very prescribed to maintain cost control, you are correct, in that the entrances are an important face of an underground station that with a great architects brief could lead to some amazing ideas that will also be cost effective.

      Los Angeles shows the way in another direction – the commissioning of public art, design and environmental graphics as integral design elements in metro stations. This is a wonderful way to develop ‘something unique and iconic for Auckland’. While also supporting the local fine arts community.

      1. Just to add to the comments above: they should not be read as a criticism of Te Papa as it ultimately developed, itself a marker for some of the directions, New Zealand took in the 1990s, and with some very nice spaces. The comments are a call to action to consider how to set up the design process for the CRL stations beyond the sketchy outline they are at present.

        There will never be a better time then now to take a close look at each of the CRL stations, and to start drawing up that list of possible architecture, design and public arts opportunities for each. Then lobby hard to ensure that the brief when it does eventuate, allows for those potential opportunities to be fulfilled.

  2. The City Rail Link will be completely transformative, which is to say will change Auckland in ways that are hard to imagine now. One of those ways is that it will be used to define and describe the city. In this it will follow Rangitoto, the Harbour Bridge, and the Sky Tower in becoming shorthand for the city. Design of the stations will be really critical as to whether they can become iconic. The AT logo I still think is a miss, the trains are better than I thought they would be from early renders; what sort design quality will we get for our small but vital underground?

    Parenthetically I’m certain that the Skypath will also become way bigger both practically and as an image than most understand. And it is also great opportunity for showing off our design ambitions internationally… Will be something we really are able to be proud of, so the detailed design of that matters enormously as well. Looking forward to the open day on Saturday.

  3. Shows that smaller cities can sustain modest metro systems and can aspire to feel like big, buzzy cities. Yes the old Europe density is the main cause (and that people want to live in flats and in the centre) but it doesn’t hurt to emphasise PT’s role in this.

    Hope some bods from Wellington are reading… (although I think that needs heavy rail extension, one day… – which at least a bus network doesn’t preclude, unlike light rail)

    1. c Metros or other space efficient movement systems don’t require the density of central Bilbao for example to function, but by adding such a system will enable density to increase around stations in ways that can’t happen in highly auto-dependant places. So for a city like Auckland to grow more areas of intensity among its current form they best way to do is to upgrade the current Commuter Rail Network into a true Metro run system. Wellington too needs to connect its currently terminating end-of-the-line system into the rest of the city- but you know that.

      1. “Hope some bods from Wellington are reading… (although I think that needs heavy rail extension, one day… – which at least a bus network doesn’t preclude, unlike light rail)”

        “Wellington too needs to connect its currently terminating end-of-the-line system into the rest of the city-”

        ==> YES YES YES, and YES!

  4. Patrick.- I wondered when we would get some more of your Bilbao photographs.
    In appropriate places the “Fosteritos” are simple, elegant structures which shelter metro entrances and draw daylight deep into the cavern of the station below. Concentrating natural light dramatically at these points enhances orientation and encourages movement through the station concourse and in addition helps to create a welcome sense of clarity and calm in a busy environment.

  5. Damn that looks good. I have always loved the way the London Underground stuck with its tiles, ox-blood blocks and and look of its era. It cost a bundle at the time but it hasn’t needed “updating” in accordance with design fashion and has probably saved money in the long run.

    1. Those Budapest images are brilliant. The different surfaces treatments are amazing. However, you can also see the care that has gone into the spaces themselves.

    2. Along with its incredible progress on cycling (now third highest modal share in Europe behind the Netherlands and Denmark) Hungary is really becoming a great example of urban and transport planning.

      This from a country that only emerged from Communism 25 years ago. What a shame that NZ hasnt been able to develop as quickly, even without the disadvantages of so many years of Communist economic mismanagement.

      We just have neoliberal mismanagement – which seems to be worse.

  6. This is really one great business to have because the only things that you’ll be needing is the area and these little money generating facilities that’s worth investing for. That’s why government & public transportations absorbs it because of that above-mentioned factors.

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