Xi’an Train Station – Competition

Location: Xi’an, China

Client: YAC and Manni Group

Design: 2019

Award: 2020

Jury: Enrico Frizzera, Patrik Schumacher, Ben van Berkel, Stefano Boeri, Antonio Cruz, Gong Dong, Francesco Fresa, Volkwin Marg, Bernard Plancade, Alberto Mercati, Giovanni De Niederhausern, Luca Gottardi, Cai Xichun, Sun Jin

Scale: 100.000 m2

Leading designers: Erdélyi Linda, Dobos András, Korényi Balázs, Gáspár Virág Anna

Designers: Urnukh Darizav, Székely Dávid, Szelezsán Bálint

Civil engineer: Terraplan | Puskás Balázs

Visuals: AXION visual

Diagrams and plans: LAB5 architects


Railway Station at the End of Silk Road

Xian is located in the centre of China bearing a history longer than three thousand years. Famous for being the „Capital of East” for centuries. The first emperor of the united China made Xi’an the capital – he still rests in peace near the city, guarded by the famous terracotta army of the eight thousands soldiers.  The landscape is picturesque and symbolic too – the 5 peaks of the Mount Hua attracts the eyes and pilgrims nearby.

The city is a mix of cultures thanks to the fact that once it was the end station of the Silk Road. Which was not only the channel of commerce, but the way of interaction and fusion between cultures too.


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The city already has an express train station, but because of the still ambitiously expanding railway network of the country, there is a need for a new hub on the west end of the settlement.

Our main strategy while creating the envelope of the program was not only emphasize the philosophy of travelling – in mind, and in space and time – but to leave a mark, and make the travellers feel “being there” too. Inspired by the writings of Juhani Pallasmaa we used the tools of land art. Creating a “building” that is on the boundary between natural and artificial gives us the chance of achieving a sensitive architecture. Instead of an “image” being in the focus of the eyes of the everyday users, we were up to effect the other senses: changes of daylight, temperature, noises of wind and rain, different smells in different part of the year or day. Just as providing spaces where acoustics make you feel cosier. We build a series of friendly slopes – those also cover the vast number of vehicles passing by.

We kept the layout very simple, the heart of the project is an open piazza of a circular shape. From here all directions are democratically set. Hotel, railway station, shopping mall, metro station, underground parking can be reached directly. The square perimeter is covered with a ring-look canopy that shelters terraces for restaurants and little shops. All the “cuts” in the landscape lead to close parts of the town – we believe the train station has to be part of its nearest environment too. The citizens living in the blocks in the neighbourhood can use this new surface for meeting, time spending, relaxing, and thinking. The upper slopes give views over the city, and provide a large open gesture, inspiring and meditative.

The symbolic of the building can be seen only from further. The shape of the land art art piece reflects the silhouette of the famous mountains nearby. The axis of geometry refers to the old traditional public buildings of China. And the ring-look roof with the red lights in the night – leave a spot, similar to the red dots anybody can find on the wall mounted info-maps in the streets with the tag “You are here”.

A little personal reference to the work of Pierre Hadot and Tillmann J. A. The Greeks in the old times were learning about the stars not only by looking at them – but they also imagined they can lift up and fly on the night sky, so they can practice a new viewpoint in-between the galaxies, and the Earth with the viewer too. We all feel solidarity for the first Chinese spacemen who got disappointed when he didn’t find the Great Wall in the window of his spaceship – maybe next time he can find this city, and we can all do the old Greek viewpoint changing practice together with him in our imagination.