re:motion, Sutherland Hussey, Architects, Architecture in Rotterdam
Scottish Exhibition first in Rotterdam, Holland: The Netherlands Architecture Show
Architecture Exhibition information by Sutherland Hussey
re:motion by Sutherland Hussey
Our proposal takes the city of Edinburgh as its test-bed – the capital of Scotland, and a place of rich historic and cultural significance. Our focus of attention is to explore potential new transport systems at the heart of the city in order to test the impact that they might have on our reading of the city and also to bring into question orthodox thinking about how we enter and leave our cities. Our proposal is intended to be as much a provocation about how the nature of the city can change with radical transport interventions.
Up until the 19th century the Edinburgh Old Town and the 18th century Edinburgh New Town were separated by a loch. The great railway builders of the 19th century came along and, with ruthless logic, decided that the best way of introducing a rail network into the city was to fill in the loch and replace it with the main station terminus. This was an extraordinary and yet necessary decision that thereafter changed our reading and understanding of the city.
Since the 19th century other radical decisions about transport have been made. A new airport has been built approximately ten miles from the city centre and a ring road has been built around the centre with the intention of enabling cars to move quickly from one side of the city to the other without impacting on its historic centre. However both of these interventions, whilst impacting on our lives radically in terms of improved mobility, have had little to no impact on the city in the way that the 19th century rail builders had. Furthermore they have both come with a price – trunk roads have emerged as feeders to the airport and the ring road, adding to clogging up the city centre. In terms of sustainability the airport is reliant on the car, taxi and bus connections which bring with it the now critical problems of road congestion and pollution.
Our proposal looks to modes of transport within the heart of the city which require minimum infrastructure and remove the need for secondary transport systems to sustain them. However they would also have a visual impact on the city that would be as radical as the railways of the 19th century and it is this issue that we look to touch upon to ask how far we are prepared to go in order to provide more sustainable alternatives to our current systems.
We have taken as our site Waverley Station, the very epicentre of the city, located in the valley between the old town to the south, and Princes street (the main shopping district) to the north. Within this area the new modes of transport can be stitched into existing modes – national and local train networks, national and local bus networks, taxi ranks etc – with minimum interruption and without the reliance of the car and the embodied energy involved in its necessary infrastructure.
We propose four new modes of transport to meet the needs of local and national connections, European connections and long-haul transatlantic connections.
Long-haul flights – the airship
An air-rights building would be located above Waverly bridge for the new airship terminus, allowing direct routes up from the station platform and from the street.
New developments in airship technology have led to renewed interest in these environmentally sustainable aircraft as means of transporting freight and passengers large distance using less than a quarter of the fuel burnt by a conventional aircraft. Further advantages of the airship includes their ability to land with very little supporting infrastructure (such as runway) and their ability to fly over the city centre due to their quietness, manoeuvrability and inherent safety.
Though primarily intended for long-haul flights the flight time to other cities in Britain would be shorter than that of travelling by train, and the fare would be much less than flying by conventional aircraft. For this market, it is vital that the service ties in with the existing public transport system to enable the airship to offer its full potential as a point-to-point link, and it would be perverse to rely on roads to reach this environmentally sustainable mode of transport.
A recent development in airship technology is the ‘Skycat’ by the Advanced Technology Group. This airship uses a double hull configuration to reduce crosswinds and attaches to the ground or any flat surface by means of hover-cushions within which the lower air pressure is generated sucking the aircraft down. This removes the need for a mooring mast at the passenger terminal and allows the airship to land on platforms attached to the roof of a building, allowing a far more direct passenger access than offered at conventional terminals.
European and national flights – vertical take-off airplanes
The vertical take-off plane offers a potential shuttle service between European cities, with its minimal infrastructure (allowing ports to be located at the heart of the city) and its fast turnaround due to ease of take-off and landing. This could offer the ideal business route where time normally spent getting to and from the airport, checking-in and waiting for the plane can all be avoided.
This technology has come on a long way from the original 1950s Jetson- the vertical take-off planes (or Skyriders) are designed to use an enhanced car engine, providing power to the four ducted fans for aerodynamic propulsion. Vertical take-off technology is presently being developed in America to install onboard computers allowing people to fly to their destination by the use of simple voice controls.
A new vertical take-off terminus is proposed as a freestanding structure at the edge of Waverley gardens. The skyport would occupy a minimal footprint being reliant on its vertical configuration to utilise the plane’s main advantage over conventional flight.
Scottish highlands and islands connections – sea-planes
Sea-planes offer the possibility of opening up new routes to isolated islands and regional cities off the major air routes and where the construction of conventional airports would be difficult and prohibitively expensive. Cities such as Oban and Fort William could enjoy quick connections back to the capital opening up new possibilities for commerce, business and tourism. We propose to flood the central roof area of Waverly station in order that sea-planes can take off and land in the heart of the city. Attached to this idea is perhaps a more romantic idea of returning the loch to the city.
Local mobility – cable car
A new cable car takes the lazy and the infirm from the lowest point in the city (Waverley Station) to the highest point (Edinburgh Castle). This would be also probably one of the most beautiful city experiences one could make as one moved from the dark underbelly of the station up past the extraordinary cliff-face of the castle.
2014 Commonwealth Games
picture from architect
Peoples Palace Glasgow
picture © webbaviation
image : David Churchill
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