This week, Crossrail launched its Platform for Design exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects.
I was given a sneak preview by the man in charge of how this mammoth project will look. And, up close, you realise ’mammoth’ is the appropriate word.
In total, Crossrail will see more than 40 stations expanded between Reading in the west and Shenfield in the east.
Walking around with Crossrail’s head of architecture Julian Robinson, it was not only the scale of the project that hit me.
It also became clear that Crossrail has been key to changing attitudes in the industry as to the way architects and contractors work together.
Greater collaboration early on between construction firms and designers has been essential to driving efficiencies and saving time across this project; which has so far run on time and on budget, Mr Robinson was keen to stress.
“On every single one of these stations the design has been influenced by the input of contractors,” he said. “We have seen these contractors involved earlier than any infrastructure project I have been involved on before.”
Surely, this is a lesson that can be applied in the future.
With billions of pounds of station work expected on HS2, and cost-cutting now very much on the agenda, driving efficiencies will be key.
Fostering early relationships between designers and construction firms could help with this and, so far, HS2 looks to be on board with the idea.
It has already created a design panel to bring together the design and construction teams.
But while early contractor involvement is a drum HS2 chief executive Simon Kirby is keen to bang, it is important these good intentions are carried through.
As Mr Robinson said: “It would have been nice to get the contractors on board even earlier.”
With dozens more stations expected as part of Crossrail 2, it would be real progress if this sort of collaboration starts to become second nature.
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