Urban Design

The challenge…

We were appointed to design a temporary staircase and ramp to get pedestrians and cyclists from the station into the town centre across the old railway goods yard. A 4m drop had to be accommodated, suitable visibility splays created for cyclists onto Canal Road, work with both the existing building (of local historic value) and unknown, future office buildings. Although not asked, we felt it should also be worthy of Taunton’s Garden Town status. Consideration needed to be given to people, place and planet.

Our approach…

As a lift was not in the brief, our first consideration was that the 84m of ramp required would not discriminate against wheelchairs users and those with pushchairs. We also wanted to create a place people would want to spend time in and not just a bland thoroughfare, somewhere that would also sustain wildlife. Another key consideration was designing for deconstruction, to facilitate being recycled at the end of life (an approach we first proposed in 1992). Finally, we wanted something that could last a long time if necessary.

Our solution…

The solution proposed would utilise all the concrete rubble that existed in huge piles on the old market site. Terraces formed from modular components, mechanically fixed would reduce carbon content and be easy to dismantle, remove and recycle at the end of life. Three Gabion modules, one ramp module and a modular staircase enabled everyone to be treated equally, share a south facing space to have lunch or listen to buskers. Elements of trees and planting would provide opportunities for wildlife and shade in the summer.