Sunday, 8 December 2013

Downtown Line 1 - A closer look

As promised, here's a follow up post to yesterday's Downtown Line 1 (DTL1) Open House post with a greater emphasis on the architectural aspects of the stations. Here's a video of a ride along the first stage of the line, opening 22 December.

Let's start at the Bugis terminus then and work our way towards Chinatown.

This station is an interchange station with the East-West Line (EWL) featuring both paid and unpaid links. A diamond motif has been adopted at this station that extends all the way from the street level to the platform.

Render of Bugis station

Large atrium above the platform as seen from the DTL Concourse
Render of paid linkway with travellators to EWL station

When you enter the station and descend the escalators from the DTL concourse to the platform, you are greeted by a great chasm spanning 3 stories making for a pretty dramatic entry to the DTL platforms. Done in simple white and black with accents of green, the station gives off a peaceful vibe that is pleasing to the eye. With a convenient transfer via a walkway with travellators and escalators, passengers will be able to transfer with ease via the mezzanine level. A separate set of escalators allows you to access either the DTL concourse or DTL platforms directly.

Mezzanine level. One set of escalators leads to the DTL Platforms while another to the DTL Concourse facilitating
an easy transfer.
Pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate, the station definitely receives a thumbs up. Some touch up work on the quality of finishings could be desired - such as the leveling of the ceiling panels and closing up the gaps between the wall cladding and the ceiling panels - but overall the station functions effectively as a metro station.

This station is an interchange station with the Circle Line (CCL). Sitting on a tight footprint and wedged below the existing station, the Land Transport Authority and contractor Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Co have pulled off nothing short of a marvel masterpiece. Originally, the CCL station was built with provisions for a future line that had to be altered drastically due to various circumstances and as such, the DTL station had to be built beneath the operational station.

Transfer diagram for Promenade station

Despite being 42m below ground, one does not feel claustrophobic in the brightly lit station which lies in contrast with the dimly lit lower platform of the CCL. An attractive artwork is installed on the wall that gives off a stream-lined look to the platform and adds a certain depth. Called Earth Cake, the artist plays off both the station's depth (this station is the deepest on DTL1) and the traditional cake Kueh Lapis.

Knowing the challenges faced and taking into account the small work area that the station had to fit into, this station certainly gets a thumbs up. The finishings are done well, although the choice of floor tiles is pretty typical, it makes up for it with subtle touches such as the wave-pattern found at the transfer mezzanine level and the vibrant artwork installed. It also gets a plus for having fairly wide platforms as opposed to some other stations along the line. One thing lacking from this side stacked station is an escalator link between the lower and upper platforms that was provided for in the CCL station as well as Bayfront station.

Downtown station is a new station and one of the two non-interchange stations on the line. Located underneath Central Boulevard, this station will be busy serving the financial centre and major office buildings in the area. A dedicated exit also serves the Marina Bay Suites development.

A render of Downtown station seen from the concourse unpaid area.

Downtown station has a unique design where the concourse has several atriums that are located directly above the train platforms. Passengers waiting for friends or grabbing a couple of things at the shops in the station are able to look out to the platforms below and gaze at the trains as they pull in and out of the station. It seems that great consideration has been given to passenger convenience with additional train arrival plasma displays being provided at the platform due to the low ceiling which limits visibility.

A mosaic artwork is featured along the platform walls that extends up to the concourse, integrating well into the clinical white colour scheme of the station. It provides a dash of colour in an otherwise sterile looking environment.

Skylights illuminate the concourse area near the exit to the Marina Bay Link Mall, giving yet another touch of vibrance to an otherwise colour-dull station.


Yet another entrance features a terracotta coloured wall cladding, injecting a further dose of vibrancy to the station.

Downtown station boasts of a unique design that can only be rivaled by the Changi Airport or Paya Lebar stations. Yet, the designs themselves do not seem alike despite the concept of a bridge over the platform being similar. While Paya Lebar seems cluttered due to the darker lighting chosen for the station, Changi Airport's glass bridge over the platform soars high giving it a degree of distance. Downtown station however, allows the commuter to feel a sense of proximity to the platforms while being able to take a step back and be removed from the hub bub of the transport node. The sterile white scheme of the station functions well with accents of the mosaic artwork, terracotta cladding of the exit and sunlight filtering down into the station area.

Telok Ayer
While this station also features side platforms like Downtown station, it also features a more closed up concept than the openness of Downtown station. Done up in a pale yellow and featuring a quirky landscape of shapes at the concourse level, Telok Ayer station manages to avoid feeling claustrophobic.

The LED text display inside the DTL Bombardier Movia.

Render of Telok Ayer station.
Ong & Ong.
Render of Telok Ayer station.
Samsung C&T.

Render of Telok Ayer station.

Overall, the station is pretty pleasing to the eye and will definitely serve the area well. The cheery platform area is complemented by the new signage style being implemented giving the station a crisp and sharp look. A future exit and connection to an underground retail mall are also provisioned for down the road, with the new exit serving the Far East Square complex.

Provisions for future ticketing machines.
This is roughly where the future exit will connect.
An information board by LTA set up during the construction of Telok Ayer station detailing a future exit.

Chinatown station is an interchange station with the North-East Line (NEL) and features side platforms one level above the existing NEL platforms. Transfers will be simple at this station with just one escalator ride facilitating any transfers needed.

A render of a proposal for Chinatown station showing the schematic integration.
Render of Chinatown station from Exit E.

As can be seen, most photos show the busy Platform A at the DTL station. In future, this platform will serve trains heading towards Bukit Panjang terminal and Platform B will serve trains towards Expo terminal. As such, operator SBS Transit will be using Platform A so as to acclimatise commuters into making the correct transfers over the years instead of confusing them come 2017 when trains change directions at Platform B to continue their eastward journey. Additionally, since the DTL station features side platforms, this aids with commuter convenience as one does not have to guess which side to take the next train outbound. With this in mind, Platform B will not likely see any action until stage 3 of the line comes online in 2017.

Chinatown station is relatively narrow at the platform level due to site constraints and the line having to make a drastic curve along Upper Cross Street to connect to the stage 3 portion. This could potentially lead to the platforms seeming more crowded than at other stations. A clever use of colour at the platforms allows you to know which platform you're at (Red motif at Platform A and Grey motif at Platform B). Connections to the existing NEL platforms are quick and easy as well as convenient. Now, one last thing to feature at Chinatown is this puzzle that had some people scratching their heads.

Well, if you have gone through this particular subway along Exit E, you would have noticed a change in the location of the sign recently.

May 2013
02 August 2013

With that, it is exciting that most of the stations along DTL1 feature a variety of designs unlike the previous let-down along CCL Stage 4 and Stage 5 which were pretty much 10 carbon copies of each other (all stations along those stages with exception of one-north and HarbourFront). The DTL1 stations by contrast feature more colours (as opposed to the above-mentioned CCL stations in red and grey) and a brighter lighting scheme. Till next time, we'll keep you updated on the construction of the remaining stages of the Downtown Line.

Photo credits - y2koh@SSC, seloloving@SSC, LTA, Greenhilli, Ong&Ong, Samsung C&T, CNA

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