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In 2021 7N Architects won a design competition to develop a ‘kit of parts’ approach to the upgrade of small-to-medium sized stations on the railway in England for Network Rail. 7N’s design responded to a brief developed through a round of public engagement events facilitated by the Design Council called ThinkStation. In 2022 the Design Council were commissioned by Network Rail to bring 7Ns winning design back out to the public to gain their views on how the design could be best adapted and implemented at the local level in order to meet passenger and community needs.

ExploreStation was innovative in bringing together three diverse engagement methods to facilitate these discussions. They included an online platform hosted by Commonplace that gathered feedback from 3,776 unique contributors; a virtual reality experience designed and built by Digital Urban allowing over 600 members of the public to explore a immersive 3D model of 7Ns design; and interactive workshops facilitated by The Glass-House Community Led Design that enabled 190 diverse participants to explore and scrutinise the station design in more depth through creative and collaborative activities.

Rowena Hay of Shortwork, who is also a Design Council Specialist, worked with the cross-disciplinary team to support the evaluation of the project, to ensure consistency in the questions asked across the engagement activities, and to analyse the data collected so it could be fed back to the design team and Network Rail.

The full report can be downloaded from the Design Council website here:

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