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Sunderland Train Station Virtual Platform 5 Glass Block Wall

Posted on 07/04/2013

Sunderland Train Station  

Sunderland Train Station, owned by Network Rail has undergone an amazing 7 million pound refurbishment, with the main feature being an award winning 144m long glass block wall & an interactive lighting feature that is a very unique virtual platform filled with passengers shadows.

Glass Block Technology advised & worked for Sadler Brown architects, & Jason Bruges studio (specialist lighting architects) designed the lighting feature, to create the inspiring, life like effect of people walking up & down the platform.

Glass Blocks & Installation:

The glass block selected was the 190x190x80mm La Rochere Clear Cross Reeded, constructed with Rods & Mortar, fixed in to stainless steel framing using panel anchors. Each bay was approximately 3m high & 3m wide. Each horizontal joint was double reinforced with 6mm diameter stainless steel reinforcement bars, calculated for wind loading that could be created by the vacuum caused, if trains passed through platform 5 at high speed.

Lighting Effect:

The 3m tall glass block wall in the underground train station has been turned into a large low-resolution video matrix (755×15 pixels). Behind the wall is a disused platform, which long ago used to see passengers waiting for trains. Now the tracks are long gone and the old platform is hidden from view, we have created ghostly characters that appear behind the glass wall opposite passengers waiting for the trains. The warm white string LED solution is a versatile strand of 15 individually controllable white light LED nodes. The durable, flexible form allows for dynamic points of white light to be installed across nearly any interior or exterior surface, including walls, ceilings, floors, three-dimensional sculptures, and set pieces.

The lighting installation is the centrepiece of the new station and features shadow figures walking back and forth along the platform, mimicking the passengers waiting on the platform. Installation of the Philips Colour Kinetics fixtures, carried out by LX Engineering, and assisted by Architainment’s Technical Services team, proved challenging as the station had to comply with LSOH cabling, and the ever-changing temperature of thestation made this difficult.

Filming of the virtual platform passengers shadows.

Sixty volunteers were filmed as part of the permanent artwork which is seen by two million people a year at Sunderland railway station. Nexus commissioned the light art installation. The work will be installed behind a 460ft (140m) glass wall and feature moving images of people performing tasks while waiting for a train. The artist Jonathan Hodges of Jason Bruges Studio said: "While the final work will conceal people's individual identities, they may still be able to recognise their movements in the characters." Andy Bairstow, communications director for Nexus, said: "Jason Bruges is creating a world-class new artwork for

Sunderland and it is an exciting part of the project that local people will be physically involved in creating it themselves."


Sunderland Station featured in local press article:


My ghostly form is preparing to stalk Sunderland station for years to come – and thankfully I will be alive to see it.

An army of light spectres will soon be strolling, sitting and pacing about the platform when a new artwork is installed at the revamped station later this year.

A 140m glass wall will cover the Harry Potter-style platform, which was used in years gone by when Sunderland was served by more trains than today. Moving human figures etched in light will appear behind the wall resembling passengers waiting for a train, and will disappear with each passing train. Artists Jason Bruges Studio took over a room in thePlace building in Sunniside to film about 50 volunteers – including myself – striking poses and performing actions which will be used to create the light figures.

My role was to play a passenger carrying a box on the platform and perform a few short routines to make it look like I was waiting for a train. "If you carry that box, it's quite distinctive, then you'll be able to recognise yourself," said Andrew Knight, arts consultant for Nexus, which is footing the bill for the station platforms' 7million overhaul. "It just creates a blurred image, so you won't be able to make out who people are." The light figures will be generated randomly from the range of stock footage and put together into sequences. Andrew admitted the station was "horrendous" at present, and the artwork was designed to brighten its daylight-starved subterranean platforms. "It's very much how we recreate the sense of light coming into the station," he said.

"In the 1930s the station had a massive cast-iron arch and light streaming through, which gives a feeling of a really great station, and, of course, over the years that was lost. "It's also where there was a platform which is now blocked up, so it's an echo of what was there before – as well as mirroring the platform opposite." "It does look back, but I think it's really about where Sunderland is going," added artist Jonathon Hodges from Jason Bruges Studio.

"People are travelling in and out, Sunderland is now on the direct route to London and people are starting to be excited about it." Jonathon said the finished article would be installed in two or three months' time and he hoped people would come to Sunderland especially to see the work. "People can get bored when they see something every day and this is about getting them to look at something in a different way.

" The lightwall is just part of a range of artwork to be included in the refurbished station, which is owned by Network Rail and managed by Northern Rail. Nexus is funding the improvement work as the station is used by millions of Metro passengers. As well as the art installations, the platform areas are being given new lighting, ceilings, wall coverings and floors, waiting areas, an escalator to street level and customer information systems.