Sir Terry Farrell has often reserved his most iconic architecture for Far-Eastern railway stations, as three futuristic airport-sized interchanges reveal.

In Britain, Sir Terry Farrell has established a reputation for urban regeneration projects that fit sizeable buildings sensitively into the urban grain of established cities. His 14-year sequence of railway stations in the Far East are in many ways the exact opposite.

The three stations in Singapore and China presented here and overleaf are immense streamlined modern buildings on the scale and in the style of global airport terminals. As transport nodes and futuristic icons, these are gateways to vast new satellite cities under development on greenfield sites.

Stefan Krummeck, who runs Farrell's 35-strong Hong Kong office, which is largely responsible for these Far-Eastern stations, points to two practical reasons for their similarity to airport terminals.

"These stations see such volumes of people that you have to separate arriving and departing passengers, just as in an airport," he says. "And in China, they tend to be through-stations rather than terminuses, so you have to get people in from either below or above. That's why the stations are arranged on several floor levels."

Though more like a frozen splash in a pond, the roof of the vast Beijing South Station was inspired by traditional Chinese pagodas

Though more like a frozen splash in a pond, the roof of the vast Beijing South Station was inspired by traditional Chinese pagodas

Beijing South Station, China

An immense silvery bubble that ripples outwards in two waves on either side is under construction in the south of the Chinese capital. This is the £139m Beijing South Station, which packs in 28 high-speed intercity platforms stretching up to 550 m in length. Serving a catchment area of 270 million people, it is designed to cope with up to 30,800 an hour and is due for completion for the 2008 Olympics.

To steer the vast crowds of passengers, the 226,000 m2 building is configured in a form that is clear, simple and people-orientated. Passenger flows have been separated out on four levels, with the main concourse given primacy at ground level, the platforms above that, and road access relegated to the second floor. Visual clarity is achieved by a regular oval shape, open-plan interiors and ample daylight channelled through vast arching skylights.

Project team
Client Ministry of Rail
Lead designer Third Survey and Design Institute
Design architect Terry Farrell and Partners
Railway engineer Atkins China
Structural and services engineer Arup

Punggol Station, Singapore

A sleek, streamlined sliver of curved aluminium and stainless-steel cladding serves as the spectacular gateway to Punggol, Singapore’s “waterfront town of the 21st century”.

Stretching 320 m in length, the £122m station brings together an underground line of high-speed trains and a local light rapid transit system on an elevated track. The symmetrical station is also traversed at midpoint by the satellite city’s main road, where it serves as a transport interchange with a bus station and car park at ground level.

The station is arranged on four floors, two of which are underground. Its roof rises in a gentle arch over the light rapid transit platforms and folds back at either end in pairs of sloping louvred plant rooms.

Monochromatic interiors lined in polished and honed granite, stainless steel and glass are counterpointed by sculptures in vividly coloured textured glass.

Project team

Client Land Transport Authority, Singapore
Design architect dTerry Farrell and Partners
Structural engineer Heah Hock Heng Engineering
Services engineer PBA
Executive architect 3HPArchitects
Design and build contractor Sato Kogyo, Hock Lian Seng Engineering joint venture

New Guangzhou Station

Measuring a staggering 590 m in length and 350 m in width, the £240m station on the outskirts of Guangzhou will be the largest station in Asia when completed in mid 2008. Its 36 platforms are designed to cope with up to 32,890 passengers an hour.

To enable smooth passenger flows with the minimum of crossovers, the station is arranged over six floors. The rail platforms have been raised to first floor level and the main passenger concourse above that, while three basement floors are devoted to the underground metro. This frees up the ground floor for the city to flow through from either side.

A gently vaulted glass roof bathes the concourse in daylight, and three long translucent roof shells on either side stretch out over the platforms.

Project team

Client Ministry of Rail
Lead designers Fourth Survey and Design Institute Beijing Design Institute
Design architect Terry Farrell and Partners
Transport engineer Atkins
Structural engineer Schlaich Bergmann