The new Chatham Waterfront Bus Station (CWBS) is one of the key infrastructure projects within the £6billion Medway Regeneration plan at the centre of the surface transport network for the Medway towns and wider environs. The CWBS replaces a 1960s station located at first floor level within the adjacent Pentagon shopping centre that was locally known as ‘The Dark Side’ due to its largely internal nature with buses circulating around a circular track with passengers in the centre.
The creation of the new station offers a considerably improved passenger experience in line with 21st Century expectations. It connects the shopping core of Chatham town centre with the waterfront area, increases public transport capacity and provides a fully accessible and safe environment for passengers, pedestrians and operators. The site was not without its challenges including being on the floodplain from the adjacent River Medway, being in close proximity to the proposed Chatham Docks World Heritage Site and set within the existing and active road network. But many of these challenges for the construction phase are now the major benefits the scheme offers providing improved pedestrian links within the established public realm and minimal change to the public transport network. Conceived as a public open space where you can catch a bus, the layout of the scheme went through a number of iterations and consultation before the ideal layout was established which integrates 20 operational bus stands into the road system, a new manned public information centre for the local transport network plus the refurbishment of the adjoining 19th Century White House to create back of house operational facilities. The design was conceived and developed as a public open space with platforms serving individual stands demarked through canopy roofs formed as organic, soft edged objects floating over the space. The site sits between town centre development, open parkland to the river’s edge and is surrounded by mature trees. The roof forms are articulated to sit within this landscape and provide continuity and contrast.
Already a local landmark, the soft forms of the canopies attract easy labelling and recognition making the station a strong identifier for the orientation of those unfamiliar with the town centre. Below the canopies the space is designed to flow with minimal barriers and for the benefit of the station user or casual pedestrian alike. A complex, three dimensional network of galvanized steel forms the framework for the canopy roof structures which is anchored to the ground through the ‘Y’ shaped galvanized and painted external supports. Seating areas are demarked by frameless glazed screens providing protection from the elements but with minimal formality and edges are blurred throughout to create a seamless journey through the station to all sides. Beneath the apparent simplicity of the built form, technology is employed to track all vehicle movements and input into the real time system with reporting to all platforms and stands on service punctuality and timing. This is designed for the future introduction of a fully dynamic system to increase capacity for the station. This system will track all vehicles and allocate stands to each service as it approaches the station directing passengers to the live stand thus increasing efficiency.
Architect: D5 Architects
Image: Simon Turner