Work to clad the newly-built Newport station with 31 futuristic air-filled plastic cushions - a look made famous by the Eden Project and the ‘Water Cube’ from the Beijing Olympics - has started.
This marks the final major installation in the construction of south Wales’ greenest station and the new station is set to be ready for passenger use this September.
Over the next few weeks, 925 square metres of the two occulli steel structures will be covered in ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene), which will be inflated with air to form the roof of the main concourse buildings.
These lightweight ‘cushions’ are created using two layers of film measuring 250 microns, around two to three strands of hair in thickness, to form a distinctive bubble wrap effect.
ETFE is among the most cutting-edge materials in the world and this is the first time that it is being used to construct a railway station in Wales.
Mike Gallop, principal programme sponsor, Network Rail said: “Our innovative approach will produce a distinctive station that is cost-effective to build and maintain, eco-friendly and fit for the 21st century and beyond. Our work has been non-stop since the scheme began last year and we are progressing on track with all the major installations nearly completed now. We will continue to work hard to complete the transformation in the next coming months. Passengers will soon have the station they deserve and Newport city will have a landmark to be proud of.”
Ian Bullock, customer services director at Arriva Trains Wales commented: “This is a very exciting project. Newport station is now leading the way in terms of its green credentials and we hope that it will become a flagship of how to construct in an environmentally friendly way."
Chris Pembridge, project design director, Atkins, said:"As the final cladding is installed, the true form of the building becomes apparent and visitors will appreciate the combination of engineering excellence and a building that is also highly visually appealing. A key consideration was how to minimise the building’s energy demands and carbon emissions and that meant using state of the art design tools to optimise the design. We believe the building will provide an outstanding feature for the people of Newport as well as proving a highly efficient and interesting station for travellers to enjoy.”
The station is now standing tall with the majority of the steelwork now completed; engineers will now be focusing on interior constructions in the next few months. Refurbishment work on the existing canopies on the station platforms has also started.
Newport station is a joint project by Network Rail and the Welsh Assembly Government, with support from Arriva Trains Wales and the Newport City Council.