Architectural Drawings: 8 Iconic Train Stations in Plan and Section

Discover how modern train stations are drawn and designed.

Eric Baldwin Eric Baldwin

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Transit is the connective tissue of cities. Defining how we move around and come together, diverse forms of transportation shape how we experience the places we live. In train stations, elements like circulation, wayfinding and signage, as well as durability and comfort, all come together to create open and inviting atmospheres. Connecting mixed-use neighborhoods, civic institutions and commercial businesses, new train networks can help increase density and bolster economic development. Today, modern train stations balance sustainability with innovative design, materials and technology.

Diving into these complex projects, the following section and plan drawings showcase train station design. Located across three continents, they illustrate advances in public transportation and rail. They explore the diverse formal and spatial organizations across scales, from more intimate stations to large train halls. Throughout the drawings, ideas of structure, light and movement become apparent. They are not only investigations in architecture and design but explorations of what it means to connect people across cities and worldwide.

Moynihan Train Hall

By Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), New York, NY, United States

Popular Choice Winner, 10th Annual A+Awards, Transportation Infrastructure

Few projects in New York City’s recent history are more celebrated than SOM’s Moynihan Train Hall. It is one of the most monumental civic projects undertaken in a generation, expanding the Pennsylvania Station complex into the landmark James A. Farley Post Office Building across Eighth Avenue. The project set out to reverse the dark, overcrowded experience that so many commuters have endured for decades. The team created a design to bring light to the concourses for the first time in more than 50 years, as well as increase total concourse space by 50 percent, and restore the grandeur that was lost with the demolition of the original Penn Station half a century ago.

The adaptive reuse of the Farley Building — designed by McKim, Mead & White and completed in 1913 — represents the transformation of an underutilized building into a new, inviting front door for New York. The Main Concourse, located in the Farley Building’s former mail sorting room, is designed with a dramatic skylight that traverses the entire space. Seen in section, it reflects the design of the original Penn Station. The skylight is arranged in four catenary vaults, which each comprise more than 500 glass and steel panels that come together to form a moiré effect.

Rotterdam Centraal

By Benthem Crouwel Architects, Rotterdam, Netherlands

For the new Central Station of Rotterdam, the idea was to re-anchor the station in the city centre and integrate it with the European network of transport hubs. As the team outlined, Rotterdam Centraal is part of the European network of high-speed railway lines and a nodal point in the city itself. This dual relationship, with the city and with Europe, gives the station and the station precinct a special dimension. Now, a 830-foot-wide (250-meter) platform roof forms a whole with the main concourse and the train travellers’ tunnel. The result is that from the moment of arrival, train passengers have the sense of entering a building.

The design for the station and the surrounding area was made by Team CS; a cooperation between Benthem Crouwel Architects, MVSA Meyer en Van Schooten Architecten and West 8. The team wanted the design on the north side to manifest as a transparent hall that matches the character of the late nineteenth-century Proveniers district. The new station roof makes a modest and transparent impression on this side. As seen in the drawings, on the city center side, the station exhibits a new grandeur that is in keeping with the dimensions of the high-rise buildings that characterize the entrance to the city.

Køge Nord Station

By DISSING+WEITLING architecture and Cobe, Køge, Denmark

In designing the Køge North Station, the team set out to make a landmark project with clarity and rigor. The project was made to be a traffic hub for the entire Copenhagen region connecting high-speed trains, local trains and the busiest motorway in Denmark — the Køge Bay Motorway. It also needed to be a symbol, a distinctive landmark in the area. The team behind the design created the project with a 740-foot-long (225-meter) pedestrian bridge, a new train station and an associated park and ride facility.

For the station design, the north side of the bridge provides a 180 degree panoramic view over the landscape and traffic lines. As seen in the plan drawing, the station connects people up and over the tracks below. Padded with wooden lamellae, the inside of the bridge becomes a warm and welcoming area, while the outside has a more rough expression with perforated steel plates matching the materials of the surrounding infrastructural system.

Canary Wharf Crossrail

By Foster + Partners, London, United Kingdom

Foster + Partners was commissioned to design a mixed-use scheme encompassing the over-ground elements of a new station for the Crossrail project at Canary Wharf back in 2008. Central to the scheme was a new enclosure unifying the station with new retail units and a park. As seen in the section drawing, the park and the rest of the building is enclosed by a distinctive roof, which wraps around the building like a protective shell. This 985-foot-long (300-meter) timber lattice roof opens in the centre to draw in light and rain for natural irrigation.

Timber was chosen as the material to enclose the park – it is organic in nature and appearance, strong, adaptable and is sustainably sourced. The design of the lattice itself is a fusion of architecture and engineering. Despite the smooth curve of the enclosure, there are only four curved timber beams in the whole structure. To seamlessly connect the straight beams, which rotate successively along the diagonals, the design team developed an innovative system of steel nodes, which resolve the twist. The visual simplicity of the arching timber lattice belies the geometric complexity of the structure, which is made up of 1,418 beams and 564 nodes.


Assen Station

By De Zwarte Hond, Assen, Netherlands

De Zwarte Hond’s Assen Station building is part of a larger neighborhood development. Bolstering the accessibility and growth of the City of Assen (the FlorijnAs programme), the station was made with brick, wood and glass to match the character of the capital of Drenthe. At the same time, it provides a new grand entrance to the city in a simple and spacious way. The 32,290 square foot (3,000 square meter) roof is made entirely of wood. This is unique: the first time in the Netherlands that a railway line has been bridged in wood. At its heart, the project was made to be Assen’s new front door.

Through the design process, the team created the triangular station roof to completely span the newly expanded railway line and fulfill a key role in connecting eastern and western city districts. They describe how the complex transport flows of the station square have been resolved with a new platform tunnel for pedestrians, illustrated in section, as well as the restoration and shortening of the existing bicycle tunnel, a car tunnel and an underground bicycle parking garage for 2,600 bicycles. This has created a pedestrian-friendly station area with a high-quality green design, minimal impact from cars and made for a human scale.

Delft City Hall and Train Station

By Mecanoo, Delft, Netherlands

A new landmark in station design, Mecanoo’s station in Delft is an unforgettable experience. The team’s idea was to design a station that makes it clear to visitors that they have arrived in Delft. The station, in combination with the new city hall, sits atop a new train tunnel built in place of the old concrete viaduct that divided the city in two since 1965. As seen in the section drawing, Throughout the design process, the building volume has been shaved and reformed to create a compact, highly efficient building form. The lowered roof lines at the corners provide a gradual transition towards the existing small-scale development of the Delft city centre and the adjacent Wester Quarter.

As visitors rise up the escalators, the ceiling with the historic map of Delft unfolds (in collaboration with Geerdes Ontwerpen). When you look outside, you see the city and the old station as a contemporary version of Johannes Vermeer’s painting ‘View of Delft’. The vaulted ceiling features an enormous historic 1877 map of Delft and its surroundings, connecting the station with the city hall. Within the station hall, walls and columns are adorned with a contemporary re-interpretation of Delft Blue tiles. Visitors can walk directly from the station into the city hall.

Koivusaari Metro Station

By Helin & Co Architects, Helsinki, Finland

Moving public transport underground was a key part of this station design. When the western metro project was launched in 2009, Helsinki’s traffic policy was no longer defined by the needs of private motoring. According to the website of the City of Helsinki, a traffic system required by dense urban structure remains functional, when more and more journeys are made using effective and space-saving modes of traveling: on foot, by bicycle and by public transport. The city’s climate targets also supported the current principles of traffic planning. Work on the Ruoholahti–Matinkylä line started in November 2017. The stations on the line are functionally similar.

The Lauttasaari and Koivusaari stations resemble each other. In Lauttasaari the theme is snow and ice, in Koivusaari water and the sea. Both stations have illuminated glass walls as backgrounds to long escalators. In Lauttasaari they have a pack ice pattern, in Koivusaari a sea pattern. A night blue vault structure over the platform area is also a connecting factor. The free-form roof of the Koivusaari station compares with an upside down wooden vessel. The principal exterior cladding materials are acid-proof steel, patinated solid zinc sheet, glass and natural stone. Koivusaari is also the only undersea metro station in the world and its escalator is the longest in Finland.

Shanghai Subway Line 14 Yuyuan Station

By XING DESIGN, Shanghai, China

In Shanghai, Subway Line 14’s Yuyuan Station is located in the heart of the city, adjacent to the ChenghuangMiao (City God Temple) and the Bund. The design of Yuyuan Station serves not only as an important node for public transportation in the city, but also as a gateway to this area and a starting point for tours. As the deepest subway station in Shanghai, the tema describes how the civil conditions such as walls, columns and floor layers cannot be changed, which brought challenges to the interior design. The curved water-wave ceiling visualizes the illusion of Huangpu River above this metro line. These “waves” lap onto the columns, creating a visual pulse.

As seen in plan, Yuyuan station is shaped to accommodate the track splitting and merging, and the distribution of ceiling pipes in the station hall. Therefore, the curved units cannot be simply repeated. Parametric design technology was adapted to generate forms and optimize the number of non-standard units on the basis of fitting to changes, in order to control the cost of mass production and installation. The water wave ceiling is made of tens of thousands of aluminum panels, cut, bent and spliced.

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Eric Baldwin Author: Eric Baldwin
Based in New York City, Eric was trained in both architecture and communications. As Director of Communications at Sasaki, he has a background spanning media, academia, and practice. He's deeply committed to trying as many restaurants as possible in NYC.
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