Rail hubs, knowledge districts and place

Neven Sidor of Grimshaw presents at 'Science Cities'

With a national backdrop of debate about HS2, the first panel discussion at our Cambridge 'science cities' forum, tackled the relationship between a successful city economy and modern infrastructure.

Station design expert Neven Sidor of architects and master-planners Grimshaw, explained how the arrival the HS2 rail tracks into the centre of Birmingham presented both a threat and opportunity on how well the city would connect in the future.

The physical thrust of the line would divide the creative quarter in Digbeth from the universities and innovation hub around Aston to the north and east, Neven explained, unless routes and paths through and under the station and tracks could be achieved. He said that a large amount of work had been done with the city council and other stakeholders on agreeing these linking paths.

While the presence of a major high speed station represented a catalyst for economic and social regeneration, he showed the audience how the under-croft areas of the station were to be animated with daylight from above, intelligent landscaping and the insertion of restaurants and retail to ensure that the under-track area did not become a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

The Chief Executive of Bruntwood SciTech's Innovation Birmingham campus, Dr David Hardman, remarked that while the Oxford and Cambridge science clusters faced the challenge of gradually expanding their urban footprints without losing their organic, historic quality and human scale, Birmingham faced the opposite: