Rejuvenating Intercity Connectivity

Project: Comprehensive Architectural and Engineering services for development of 4 Railway Stations at Naya Raipur, Chattisgarh

Architects: Creative Group

The state of Chhattisgarh is undergoing an urban facelift, the focus of which is the proposed Smart City of Naya Raipur. Following the attention that the Prime Minister’s initiative of India’s 100 smart cities is receiving, we believe that the idea of a smart city should be one of livability, sustainability, highest quality of life and economic viability. The design of the railway stations at Naya Raipur is just one small piece of the ‘smart city’ crossword.

Amongst the many global firms, Creative Group was the sole Indian firm to have participated and won the Global Design Competition for the proposed stations. Owing to the experience of the firm in designing several metro stations at Chennai and various intermodal hubs in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, the emphasis in this project was on creating simple, yet visually appealing and easy to construct stations, modulated with steel framing.

The project includes the design of four new stations, with the Naya Raipur station being the central hub, providing effortless intra-city and intercity connectivity, and bringing people from Raipur and Naya Raipur together, whereas the other three will be suburban stations. Spread over an area of 40 acres, the Naya Raipur Station is slated to have multiple platforms. A similar thought process has been applied to the rest of the stations as well, in terms of design and structure.

Site Planning

An understanding of the site directed the designers towards providing an arterial road— for entering the station and to avoid any traffic congestion on the main road that holds the existing BRT system. The drop off and parking facilities have been provided on the west side. Through this, it was possible to achieve direct connectivity between the BRT and the railway station through a foot-over bridge, which is differently-abled friendly.

Further, to elevate the passenger experience, a public piazza has been laid out at the centre of the west side development. It includes informal shops, sitting spaces, green walkable streets and a water body to captivate the passengers as they move along the station. The green walkable streets amidst the commercial shops, inculcate a sense of serenity and comfort by avoiding the harsh sun, and let the passenger interact with nature as well. The piazza is user-friendly, with a clear-cut movement pattern. The spaces on the left and right side of the public piazza are dedicated to Central Business Districts and other mixed-use developments that employ the elevated track mound. On the east side, recreational nodes are designed in the form of green pockets, which are open to the public to relax and interact, thus making the station complex a bilateral transit hub.

Station Design

The station platform is provided on the first floor, whereas the ground floor is utilised for the public piazza. Formal shops and kiosks are well distributed in the piazza, while being braced with sit-out spaces. Lifts and staircases are provided to move to the other floors. A monumental staircase connects the ground floor to the second floor, which is equipped with a food court and cafeterias to engage the users further. The foot-over bridge from the BRT is directly linked to the second floor.

A salient feature of the station design are the skylights that provide natural light to the piazza, through the cut outs that are made on the track level. Apart from their practical role of bathing the station with natural light, these skylights also make the station more sociable and energy efficient. The reason behind incorporating this feature is to provide a certain character
to the stations that conveys openness and transparency. They also help to maximise daylight and minimise dependency on artificial sources, thus optimising energy costs. The skylights have been extended on the concourse area as well, to create an outdoor/indoor environment.

Building Structure

Steel being the predominant material has helped in achieving the iconic form of the station. The building structure has been designed as a dual skin. The outer shell is derived with a steel portal frame, with steel intermediate tie beams and purlins that support the stand-up seam metal roofing system, thus creating the external envelope. The primary portal has been tilted to achieve the desired shape, which exhibits a strong architectural expression without any structural complexity. The metal roofing provides insulation and lowers heat consumption, thus making the station an eco-friendly transport hub. Horizontal louvers are provided on the façade, which additionally allow light inside the station complex. The floor plates are made up with cast in situ RCC framed structures, consisting of RCC columns, beams and slabs.

These epochal railway stations are envisioned as landmarks for commuters, with world class facilities that also make them commercially viable. It is important for Tier II cities like Raipur and Naya Raipur to have such intermodal hubs, to connect them and bring them at par with the rest of the country. Architect Charanjit Shah says “still grappling with the intricacies of building a smart city, our country is on the lines of fully understanding what an ‘Indian Smart City’ should be. Undoubtedly, the architects and planners of today need to re-look and delve into the various challenges that our cities are facing. Thus, adding such landmarks to new city skylines that provide seamless intercity and intra-city connectivity, and also links various modes of transport together, provides easy traffic management and user-friendly movement.”

The cynosure of such projects is on building a facility that enhances the user experience and encourages use of public transport, thus making the city ‘smart’ in the absolute way.

Factfile

Client: Naya Raipur Development Authority

Design team: Prof. Charanjit S Shah (Founding Principal), Ar. Gurpreet S Shah (Principal Architect), Ar. Surjit Singh

Number of stations: 4

Total Built up area per station: 13,000 sq m (per station); 65,684 sq m (approximate total)

Cost of project: INR 150 crores

Year of completion: Ongoing