Wynyard Station has long served Sydney’s central business district seeing more than 110,000 pedestrian movements every day. However, during summer, the platforms at the station are notorious for uncomfortable heat and humidity. Novo Rail, an alliance of Transport for NSW (TfNSW), in partnership with global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon, Laing O’Rourke and RCR Infrastructure worked together to overcome this complex engineering challenge, while keeping the station open for business.
Installing air-conditioning was not an option due to the high movement of air into and out of the station with each train movement. The best means to provide heat relief was via a localised cooling system that projected cooler air directly onto the passengers. This had been tried in numerous locations around the world with very limited success, making the challenge even more irresistible for Aurecon’s design team.
Harnessing a diverse group of thinkers, including representatives from TfNSW, the project team set about exploring a solution.
“We began by putting creativity and collaboration to work to pioneer a model that wasn’t afraid of phrases such as ‘hasn’t been done before’,” said Alex Hole, Project Leader.
Being the second busiest station on the network, it was not possible to test potential solutions in situ so Aurecon worked with the Novo Rail partners to establish a simulated environment within the station building. This allowed for experimentation to be done without posing any risks to passengers, employees or facilities.
The result was 3D-printed air-diffuser prototypes inspired by an aircraft’s environmental control unit (ECU), which employs nozzles above each passenger seat to control individual temperature ‘zones’. A temperature-controlled room served as the test environment, recreating the Wynyard Station platform on a hot day, including heat and humidity simulation. Test subjects were brought in and given virtual reality goggles which recreated a virtual Wynyard Station platform ̶ complete with passengers waiting for their train, chatting on their phones and trains arriving and departing. In this way, the test room was transformed into a platform at Wynyard Station.
“Design thinking takes a holistic approach to understanding the problem from multiple angles and stakeholder perspectives. Placing station-users at the centre of the design challenge, we sought to design an innovative concept and propose a new and unconventional solution to a design challenge that has stumped the industry to date,” said Rick Hopkins, Project Director.
The testing process allowed the project team to take the client and stakeholders along on the journey, starting with a collaborative design workshop, right through to a physical demonstration of the solution the team had collectively devised. “The test environment fully engaged the test subjects throughout the simulation process. This kind of simulation was a first of its kind in itself and optimised high-quality and constructive feedback from those central to the solution – the station users,” said Hopkins.
After the laboratory testing had been deemed a success, a platform trial was undertaken on Platform 3/4 during the peak of summer in December 2016. The trial is complete and the team is evaluating the results. The heat relief system is planned to be operational in the summer of 2017.
This project has won the following awards for Aurecon: