Network Rail launches competition for in-station exhibition concept

A budget of £12,000, including a £4,000 fee, is being offered for the winning design of the Curating Concourses competition.

The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) and Network Rail have launched an open call competition for a reusable exhibition design concept.

The winning design of the Curating Concourses competition is to be installed at London Euston Station during the June 2021 LFA event.

An award of £12,000, including a £4,000 design fee, is on offer for the winner.

“Stations by their nature are egalitarian”

The winning design concept will need to be reusable, with entrants encouraged to include modular elements that could allow their prototype to be relocated to other train stations for future exhibitions.

In this first instance, the London Euston Station exhibition will showcase Network Rail’s Design Guidance Series – a suite of up to 29 documents highlighting the organisation’s “commitment to quality design” – but future applications could be broad.

According to the LFA and Network Rail, the competition aims to “test the nature and future of creative and cultural exhibitions on railway stations”. The brief itself considers this as an opportunity to rethink the “unused or leftover space in stations for learning and engagement”.

“Stations are an ideal venue for exhibiting creative and cultural works because of their democratic nature,” explains the brief. “Museums might have problems bringing a broad range of society through their doors, but stations, by their nature are egalitarian.”

“Elements of surprise”

The winning design will also encourage passengers and local people to use the station in different ways, the brief says, by including “elements of surprise”.

Network Rail and the LFA are keen, however, to ensure the concept remains functional for visitors and is not “purely sculptural”. Nor should it stray so far from the brief so as to become a full “pavilion or folly”.

An exact area for the month-long exhibition at London Euston Station will be confirmed with station managers at the shortlisting stage of the competition, but designers should be sure their idea does not exceed 9m2.

As has been the case with all exhibitions since the start of the pandemic, designers will need to consider how visitors can engage with content in a Covid-secure way.

Alongside the exhibition concept itself, Network Rail and the LFA will also invite the winner of the competition to work with them to produce the content for the London Euston Station showcase. Network Rail’s Design Guide Series – the subject of the first exhibition – includes information on wayfinding, branding and audio and visual material exploring trends in station and footbridge design.

Competition details

The competition is open to emerging architects, designers, artists and curators, with entries from outside of London encouraged.

Entries will be judged by a panel with a £500 honorarium awarded to the shortlisted individuals or practices invited to develop a concept at the second stage of the process.

The winning team will be announced in April, and the design will be installed in June to coincide with the LFA.

For more information, head here.

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