Allen International is designing the new travel centres for GNER. These will substitute the ticket offices inherited from British Rail and bring the railway operator to the forefront of customer care. The London design group has already worked with travel operators such as NS Stations in the Netherlands, and has an experience of ‘travel retail’ environments.
Each GNER centre will have an individual style, although the primary aim is to make ticket purchasing a simple, stress-free affair. Phase one of Edinburgh Waverley opened on 15 July and will be completed by October, while London’s King’s Cross travel centre is due to open this month. Allen International has also created the preliminary concept for the travel centre in Newcastle and the overall design concept for the other six GNER travel centres along its East coast route, which will be implemented by architect Austin-Smith Lord.
The concept behind the design is to offer an inviting environment which combines airport and retail style convenience. ‘It’s about channelling customers to the appropriate delivery point,’ says Paul Foley, associate design director of Allen International. To accomplish that there will be fast lanes for travellers who know what they want and slow lanes for those who want to explore all the travel/pricing options. A key objective is the achievement of a ‘clearer communication hierarchy’ and a better ‘zoning’ scheme.
During busy times passengers will be assisted by a ‘meeter greeter’, a member of staff who will direct them towards the correct counter. Placing flat screen monitors above the counters and removing glass barriers between the customer and the staff will transform ticket buying into a fast, yet friendly experience. Other features include a Customer Information Point on the concourse, dealing with inquiries such as platform numbers and train running times.
Each centre will have its own layout and individual idiosyncrasies, but with a generic theme. ‘The idea is to return to the golden age of travel,’ says Foley. The overall concept of a ‘restrained style combining clean modernity with fairly bright colours’ will spread to all the future centres. GNER’s architect, Humphrey & Edwards – previously involved in Sydney’s International Airport – and executive architect Austin Smith Lord have worked with Allen International to accommodate the different space constraints of the various stations.
Architecture: Concept architect: Humphrey & Edwards
Executive architect: Austin-Smith Lord
Interiors, signs and environmental graphics:
Allen International (senior graphic designer Marguerite Hartley)
Lighting: Into Lighting Design
Identity/branding: Vignelli Associates