Railway stations, like airports, are often the first buildings that people experience when arriving in a city and they therefore have an important symbolic role as urban gateways. Singapores Expo Station is the first Mass Rapid Transport station that visitors to the city encounter when travelling along the new Changi Airport Line. Built to serve the new Singapore Expo Centre, its design is both a celebration of arrival and a response to one of the warmest climates in the world.
The station is announced externally by two highly sculptural roof elements, which overlap to dynamic visual effect and appear to hover weightlessly above the heavy concrete base. A 40-metre-diameter disc, clad in stainless steel, shelters the ticket hall and marks the station entrance, while a 130-metre-long, blade-like form, sheathed in titanium, covers the platforms, its reflective soffit constantly animated with the reflections of passengers and passing trains. The station is used by very large numbers of people at peak times and so creating clear sight lines and a strong sense of orientation were fundamental to its design. At ground level, the concourse is open, with views on one side to the street, and on the other side to a lush tropical garden created between the station and the Expo Centre. The elevated platforms are reached from the concourse and ticket office at street level by lift or escalators. Enclosure is kept to a minimum and passengers can look up through a long cut in the floor structure to glimpse the trains coming and going overhead.
Environmentally, the stations open form has other benefits, encouraging a cooling flow of air through the building. The choice of roof materials also has an environmental significance. Internally, the polished metal surface reflects daylight down through the building, minimising the need for artificial lighting, while externally, the cladding deflects the suns rays, thus helping to create a microclimate on the platforms that is refreshingly up to four degrees cooler than the outside temperature.