High Speed 2 Design Vision panel
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
HS2 is a great opportunity to showcase what great British design can do.
Welcome to the Gridiron building, designed by David Chipperfield, who is here today (3 July 2014).
Once, it was a rail yard. Today it is part of Europe’s biggest transport interchange.
When you imagine Britain and the railway at its best you think of St Pancras brilliantly described by Sir John Betjeman as ‘the great arc of Barlow’s train shed and the sudden burst of exuberant Gothic of the hotel’.
Bold design like, the Flying Scotsman, Brunel’s Royal Albert bridge or the Mallard steam engine .
It took confidence and ambition to create them. And then, somewhere along the way, that sense of expectation for what was possible fell by the wayside.
We started to accept second best. We began to think that other countries did great design. The bullet train. The TGV.
Nothing summed that up better than the unpleasant and unloved - “temporary” - portacabin that obscured the front of King’s Cross station for 40 years. And British Rail’s attempt to knock down the St Pancras Hotel.
Now is not the time to be modest. We are turning that around.
A £6 billion pound investment that has transformed King’s Cross and St. Pancras - High Speed 1.
Now we’re approaching a pivotal moment for High Speed 2. You don’t need me to tell you that it is a massive project.
We mean it when we say we want HS2 to make the country proud.
It is about more than engineering and construction.
We are very conscious of the impact on the public purse – but we are here to deliver value not pinch pennies.
Good design is essential.
We also understand this is about more than what HS2 looks like.
Good design is about utility, usability and delight.
Good design creates things that are both useful and loved by those that use them.
It creates landmarks.
And it can help make the difference between success and failure.
We need HS2 to be as good as it possibly can be.
Britain has some of the most talented, creative and intelligent designers working today.
With HS2 there’s an opportunity to show the world what great British design can do that will last for generations to come.
That’s why we’re here today.
So thank you for coming, thank you for your help and thank you for listening.