Hurstville Station Design Brief

Hurstville railway station and Hurstville Central shopping centre is located in the centre of the shopping and business centre of Hurstville. It is a critical part of the suburban infrastructure. The shopping centre covers almost the entirety of the railway station. Nearby is the Hurstville bus interchange, Westfield shopping centre, many office towers and a growing number of residential towers.

The entrance to the station is through the shopping mall which can be accessed via escalator and steps from the centre of the shopping district on the main road as well as ramps from the bus interchanges and the car park above the centre.

Inspiration – The Problem:

Having observed many users of this space, there are various areas which can be enhanced in order to improve customer experience. The main focus area of this design brief is to provide a more pleasant and functional seating space for those using the centre for more than access to the railway platforms.

1. The seating area in the food court could be more aesthetically pleasing.

Foodcourt

2. Additional seating should be provided for those wishing to sit but not eat.

Wouldn’t it be great if the space promoted the idea of arriving early, grabbing a coffee or bite to eat whilst leisurely reading the paper, catching up with a friend or answering emails? One would hope that ‘putting people first’ (Brown, 2011: 382) in this space would create a win-win situation for all stakeholders: customers, shop owners, staff

Whilst the sole problem may be considered to be the  addressing of the needs of the customers using the space, there are many elements that enter into the problem, thereby adding constraints to the design process.

 Constraints:

  • cost of making improvements – who pays for modifications: Shop owners, centre management (via rent collection) Rail Corp?

  • unimpeded access to railway platforms, especially at peak time

  • easy access to exits with shopping trolleys

Knowns:

  • the centre is a very busy place

  • people need easy access to ticket machines, ticket barriers and platform

  • the food court is well patronised

  • people will sit on seats provided

  • groups of gentlemen of Mediterranean background gather as a group whilst their wives shop. This is a cultural practice that is also observed in the Westfield shopping centre across the road.

  • the large supermarket is well patronised

 Unknowns:

  • who will use new seating areas – commuters, shoppers, students?

  • will providing additional seating encourage groups of students to ‘hang around’?

  • will shoppers with trolleys be impeded by larger than expected groups gathering on this side of the centre?

  • will business increase for food outlets?

  • will “waiting gents” and school children share a space happily?

  • Will OPAL card use free up space near ticket machines/attended ticket windows?

 Ideation:

Food court

  • move bins in food court

    • they are in the centre of the space with tables surrounding them.  Not pleasant as a diner. This may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but people must navigate past many tables to get to the centre. Having the bins placed in four outer corners would be better as people will need to pass a corner, regardless of where they sit. The openings of the bins should face away from the diners.

  • better lighting in food court

    • add downlights in wide bulkheads to brighten space

    • lighter table tops

  • place for high school kids to gather (Westfield alternative?)

    • kids may like this but doubt that the adults would. The area outside Coles is quite wide and not as busy as the other side near the food court. Is it a good idea to provide a space for the high school kids to chat or do we assume they are heading to buses, trains? Some will, no doubt, head to Westfield where there is ample space for gathering in food court there.

New seating area on the Coles side of the centre – the less busy side of the centre.

  • place for high school kids to gather instead of standing around chatting

    • kids may like this but doubt that the adults would. The area outside Coles is quite wide and not as busy as the other side near the food court. Is it a good idea to provide a space for the high school kids to chat or do we assume they are heading to buses, trains? Some will, no doubt, head to Westfield where there is ample space for gathering in food court there.

  • seating for “waiting, chatting” gents –

    • move them out of food court to free up tables for diners

    • They are not eating, but a few have coffee. A seating area would need to be positioned so that men were facing each other – long narrow bench (with back rests?)

Prototype: a low cost, efficient way to ensure solutions work (Design Council, 2013: 7)

  • Close off centre bins. Add temporary bins to corners. Watch movement of people in table area to check access to bins and if they use them or leave rubbish on tables for cleaners to remove.

  • mark out seating area to see if it would interfere with foot traffic or people pushing shopping trolleys

  • add cheap plastic chairs to the area to see if they are used

 

References:

Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design. Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?

Design Council (2013). Design for public good. UK Design Council and SEE platform.

 

My Comments on:

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Designed for a Purpose: Hurstville Station

Two main areas above the platforms: station entry and surrounding shops as well as a food court area with more shops.

Station Plan

Station entry:

There are four entrances to the station concourse

  1. Street entrance from bus interchange

  2. Street entrance from main shopping precinct, including Westfield Shopping Centre,  and buses

  3. Travelator from car park and offices

  4. Ramp from car park

People using the train station arrive from entrances 1 and 2 . I parked my car on the rooftop and arrived from entrance 3 via a travelator. This entrance provides direct access to Coles supermarket and minimal contact with people using the station entrances. Entrance 4 has concrete ramps leading up to roof carpark.

The entrances to the station sit inside a large rectangular area in the centre of the space.

As people enter from either of the large street access points, they are faced with electronic indicator boards and ticket machines. The floor covering for the whole space is beige tiling. The busiest areas of the space (1,2 and 5) have horizontal strips of black tiles, reminiscent of a pedestrian crossing. This gives the illusion of a space where there is a lot of foot traffic and a space where you would not stop for any length of time.

concourse

The ticket machines also have large floor advertising in front of them (at the moment they all advertise the OPAL card). This also gives the illusion of a space for use of the ticket machines, not a place to stop for any other purpose. Closer to the indicator boards, the pedestrian-like tiles stop, giving the impression that this space is for stopping and examining the indicator boards.

It was easy to identify the people who were not catching regular trains, as they spent some time looking at the indicator boards prior to entering the station. Other commuters made their way directly to the ticket barriers, knowing their daily routine.

The entrance barriers are located on the sides away from the street entrances. This would avoid congestion at peak times. As trains arrived, the space around the platform entrances were busy but not congested. This was probably due to the fact that the area is wide and clear of shop entrances. People moved away from the entrances towards the exits and , in some cases, towards the food court.

The food court area is a modest sized area near the station entrance but not close enough to interfere with station activity. The people eating here were mainly singles with a few family groups. I did not find this a very pleasant place to eat. I bought some take away and sat and observed the activity in this area. The long tables with stools were used by people like me – alone, eating because it was lunch time. The tables with movable chairs surrounded the bins and were occupied by small groups – they all appeared to be shoppers except for the group of 7 men sitting in a group drinking coffee. This activity is also observable in Westfield where groups of men gather to chat whilst waiting for their wives to shop. The lighting was recessed and quite dull, particularly under the bulkheads. I did not like the bins being in the centre – almost all tables were only a few steps from the bins.I would have preferred to see them on the outer edges – they would have been more accessible, particularly for people like me on the high tables around the outer edges. It is also not very pleasant to have bins as the centrepiece of the space.

Foodcourt

Having observed the concourse in general for some time, I then decided to head to the platforms. As I was not actually travelling anywhere, I did not wish to purchase a ticket. It was, at first, difficult to find someone to approach with my request for entry without a ticket as the two men inside the station entrance were not located in a position to help people outside the barriers.I eventually caught the eye of a railway worker inside his office beyond the ticket barriers. He seemed a bit confused by my request, but told me to go back out and speak to someone at the information windows – they would provide me with a visitor’s pass. At the information window, I was told to just go in (which I did, after confirming that the first man would still be there in 15 minutes to let me out without a ticket).

The atmosphere and mood of my experience changed as I moved from the concourse, through the barriers and down to the station. Whilst the fluorescent lighting on the concourse above was bright and encased in large downlight fittings, the lighting on the platform consisted of uncovered  fluorescent strip lighting with natural light emanating from either ends of the platforms. The walls on the platforms were dark from dust and build-up of material from passing trains, including non-electric trains carrying coal etc.

Platform lights

As I watched people arrive on the platform, most glanced at the indicator board before proceeding to a space to wait for the train. Some looked for vacant seats whilst others kept walking until they found an area to stand that wasn’t too close to anyone else. Most seemed to look for a space as close as possible to the centre of the platform. Once settled, the majority of people stood looking at their phones until the train arrived. Others who were in pairs or small groups conversed. Those seated mainly looked at phones whilst a few read the paper. Due to the tunnel-like nature of the platform, it was quite cool and breezy. The people in this space are here simply to wait for a train.

Back up on the concourse, it is interesting to note the types of shops around the station . With a high Asian demographic, I am not surprised to see all take away food stores sell Asian cuisine, apart from McDonald’s of course. The other shops around the station entrance are those that commuters would find handy when in a rush- coffee counter, bakery, news agency, chemist. Coles also provides a place for a quick top up of the groceries on the way home as well as the “big shop” for those parking upstairs. Further from the station entrance you will find butcher, green grocer and fish monger.

Overall, I think the space works very well for a busy suburban rail station.

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