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The Edgehill Model Railway Club

Part 2 Project 2010
Rolland Velho
London South Bank University | UK
The Edgehill Model Railway Club is a celebration of UK railways, past, present and future. It forms a solace for railway enthusiasts and permits avenues for experimenting and creating new railway landscapes. The siting of the Edgehill Model Club celebrates the historic meeting point between 2 great personalities of the 19th Century Joseph Williamson and Robert Stevenson, the meeting which ultimately culminated in completing the Worlds first passenger railway.

The Edgehill Model Railway Club is a part of Polyark II project inspired by the late Cedric Price and is a response to railways and railway architecture. Proposed by the Liverpool University School of Architecture, the site is a 7,495 sq.m brownfield railway backland located in the Edgehill area of Liverpool. Split in 3 levels by a railway cutting hosting the mainline Rail link into Liverpool.

Inspired by Peter Zumthors ‘Between Composure and Seduction’ the experience begins when one steps off the train on the railway platform and is led through a series of links, bridges and ramps permitting vistas of the building, its functions and the railway line below.

The Edgehill Model Railway Club design has been developed as a response to the changing nature of Edgehill which reorganised itself and its transitional relationships every few decades. The building form is established based on the analysis of historical movement within these changing relationships establishing a defined hierarchy to arrive at a building form. The site is further eroded and deconstructed using the kinetic and volatile analysis of steam.

A Model Railway club is all about reconnecting people to their childhood experiences, a place where people could meander around sharing and gaining new experiences, get awestruck, discover something or just pause and ponder for a while … much like how people would experience a railway journey

Rolland Velho

Rolland has identified the very English obsession with trains and models trains as a fertile source of architectural speculation and invention. The unique underground ambience of the Williamson Tunnels has been ingeniously inhabited both by large scale railway artifacts (some as large as the actual locomotives pulling the trains), and by activities that reconnect visitors to the sense of awe the railways originally developed in the mid Victorian mind.

Understanding that the construction of the railways involved some of the most ambitious civil engineering the 19th century world had encountered, Rolland has sculpted the subterranean environment of Edge Hill to form a new focus where the experience available mediates between adulthood and childhood.

Rolland began by analysing the physiognomy of steam, the single most romantic element of the early railways and the aspect marking the progress of a train as it scythed through the countryside at previously unimaginable speeds. The crystalline nature of steam was transposed into an architectural medium connecting the sky with the below ground world of the Railway Club.

The project is a functionally rigorous and highly creative response to an exceptionally demanding site. Rolland has worked hard to relate the speculative and operational aspects of this proposal to realise a credible and imaginative project that reflects a key obsession of the British.


Ms Lilly Kudic

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