Rethinking HS2

Rethinking HS2

In the lead-up to the government’s formal approval of phase one of the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail network in January 2012, much of the controversy surrounded how the route between London and the West Midlands will affect an AONB in the Chilterns. With the proposal now having been given the go- ahead, attention has turned to the affect that HS2 could have on the local  communities surrounding the first part of the route, from Euston Station through Primrose Hill and out to Kilburn, where the line starts to leave London.

HS2 will carve through the urban fabric of north London and, despite Transport Secretary Justine Greening calling the line “the most significant transport infrastructure project since the building of the motorways”,
there appears to have been little imagination invested in how such a scheme might be integrated differently. Where is the bold vision that might set a new agenda for infrastructure projects?

It was with this in mind that Landscape decided to commission five award-winning students from the 2011 Landscape Institute Awards to show how a landscape-led approach could benefit the implementation of this major piece of transport infrastructure. They were asked to provide their vision for the first stage of the route from Euston to Kilburn, and to consider how it would affect local communities.

The idea was to see if there is a way of envisioning HS2 that actually enhances that area of the city on a range of different levels – from beauty and recreation to its environmental, social and cultural stock. The five students were given just two weeks to deliver their visions and they’ve been printed in full in a special section of Landscape Winter 2012.

Five students, five visions
Click on the slide show above to see examples of how the students (listed below) brought their visions to life. For the full story in print in Landscape Winter 2012.

1. New order
Don’t turn your back on infrastructure; make a virtue of it, said Oliver Barden (Edinburgh College of Art)

2. Community corridors
Tie the railway into the urban grain of the city and bring Britain’s forgotten rail corridors back to life, said Amy Harley-Jepson (Edinburgh College of Art)

3. The sublime
Harness the sound and motion of passing trains to re-energise the landscape and expand our horizons, said Nick Tolley (Edinburgh College of Art)

4. Dual perspective
Rail travel needn’t be monotonous. Use HS2 to create public spaces that connect communities and provide a dynamic visual narrative for its passengers, said Andrew Pringle (Edinburgh College of Art)

5. Ribbons of life
Embrace HS2 through productive and ephemeral landscapes, said Helen Cummins (University of Sheffield)

Landscape students make the Architects Journal website
Hattie Hartman has already picked up on ‘Rethinking HS2’ and is due to publish a story on the student’s work on her sustainability blog at



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