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Reimagining Railway Stations as Urban Nodes

Designaddvance is inviting all undergraduate and post-graduate students of Architecture, Planning, Engineering, & Design across the country to reimagine a railway station, boosting the towns through integration of facilities, business, leisure, education and consumption at railway stations. 

Design Brief - Premise



What if railway stations became all-purpose centres of services?
What if they became places where people could work, learn, play, heal, connect and rejuvenate?


Railway stations around the world are undergoing a massive transformation. From simply being a place of departure and arrival for an affordable and sustainable means of transport, they have become spaces teeming with activity. The driving force behind these transformations is a demand to accommodate new functions as well as to elevate the experience of travelling from the source to the destination. As transit hubs, railway stations provide necessary amenities to their users with ease. As urban centres for services, railway stations could grow into bustling public places that the city-dwellers could be proud of.

Indian Railways is the 4th largest rail network in the world and is the largest employer in India. The network connects 7000+ stations all over the country, where over 13,000 trains operate every day. It connects people and places on an enormous scale and across socio-economic levels in India, where rail transport still remains the chosen form of travel for a majority of the population. Railway stations are one of the few places of public importance that retain some activity throughout the day. And in a way, they hold a city within a city that never fully sleeps.

Across the 7,653 railway stations in India, more than 4000 are in X, Y and Z cities. Reimagining railway stations in thescities/towns as active urban nodes also adds to their multi-dimensional relationship with their surroundings and nearby neighbourhoods. They have already evolved beyond transit hubs, stretching towards centres of business, culture and communication. With Transit-oriented Development (TOD) becoming an integral part of urban development, to promote public transit use, it’s time to look at what possibilities railway stations hold to combine various elements in the day-to-day life of the citizens. They could become places that amalgamate various spheres and sectors, and fill in the gaps in the town’s life, with facilities like education, healthcare, workspaces, commercial developments, etc. They could also help uplift the economic sector in the town.

An example that effectively demonstrates the importance of a Transit-oriented approach is that of Navi Mumbai. The decentralized planning with multiple nodes focuses on different activities, each node serving a specific amount of the population. The Trans-harbour railway line was envisioned in the 1960s and came into existence in the 1990s. Stations along this line have been envisioned as strategic nodes to boost development in the region. Vashi railway station is home to a commercial complex with offices, Seawoods-Darave railway station is a mixed-use business centre, and Belapur CBD railway station complex houses govt. Offices.

While creating and innovating a new vision for these railway stations, it is important to conserve the unique identity of the city where the site is located. With sustainability in mind, encourage sustainable choices by users through the design using strategies like net-zero water and energy cycles, waste management and promoting responsible behaviour in public spaces. Participants are welcome to improve user experience with wayfinding, entry-exit, layover, and placemaking and open up the town/city to new avenues through their design.

Design Problem

This year, designaddvance calls for ideas that reimagine railway stations in X, Y and Z cities beyond being just Transit Hubs and more as nodes of urban activity. To reform and boost the existing spatial and visual identity of a railway station into that of an urban centre—with a mix of uses such as healthcare, commerce, education, leisure, business, entertainment and so on—reshaping the interaction of the users with the place.

To reimagine an existing railway station with innovative approaches, participants should try to TRACK their design decisions.

  • Take a sustainable approach towards energy and low carbon emissions,

  • Resolve first and the last mile challenges of transit,

  • Achieve barrier-free integration with city fabric,

  • Create a self-sustaining design by incorporating feasible revenue generation models and commercial activities,

  • Knock down the boundaries from a mere 'means of transit’ approach.

Site Selection

Participants can take up a railway station site in any of the X, Y or Z cities, according to the RLDA’s scheme (refer to appendices). Sites in Y and Z cities that promote growth of the city/town, will be encouraged even though not mandatory. Adhere to the following parameters while choosing your site:

  1. The total site area should be between 1-4 acres.

  2. Follow locally applicable bye-laws or the National Building Code in their absence. (Different cities and regions have different allowances for ground coverage, FSI, % built-up area, etc.).

  3. Refer to the Manual for Standards and Specifications of Railway Stations Vol I and Vol II for standards.



Reimagine the railway station site as an urban node, infusing it with combinations of functions that include, but aren’t limited to:

  1. Business - Workspaces, convention centres, meeting rooms, etc.

  2. Commercial developments - shopping, farmers’ markets, cafeterias, restaurants, and so on.

  3. Education - libraries, coaching centres, schools, colleges, classrooms, etc. These services could be supplemented by programmes like ʻBooks on wheels’ started by Indian Railways.

  4. Healthcare - facilities that could range from speciality clinics to full-fledged hospitals. These facilities could also work in conjunction with initiatives such as the Lifeline Express, Smile train, etc.

  5. Leisure and Entertainment - exhibitions and experiences, play areas, auditoriums etc.

  6. Hospitality/Tourism - Hotels/accommodation for visitors to the city.

  7. Other functions that you think are important to your scheme and would help make the reconceived railway station an important node.

A few helpful pointers and measures for your designs are given below:


  • Enhance the users’ experience of the place. Focus on the ease of wayfinding, entry and exit points, layover, pedestrian and vehicular traffic and connectivity to public transportation.

  • Think of the variety of user groups and their choices/preferences as well as needs.

  • Spaces should be accessible and inclusive, and promote equal opportunity and participation.

  • Encourage sustainable choices by users through walkability, net zero cycles for energy and water, efficient waste management practices, etc.

  • Define well your own programme and functions within it. Your design should be like a tailor-made solution for your chosen site according to your research and studies.

  • Allow enough flexibility in your design for future readjustment to uses and changing demands.

  • Embrace the local cultural heritage, architectural identity and vernacular building practices.

  • Think about user behaviour in public spaces in India—provide a solution for maintenance and hygiene concerns. Encourage good behaviour through your design and contribute to the safety and placemaking of the site.


  • Open to all undergraduate and postgraduate students of Architecture, Planning, Engineering, and Design across the country.

  • Anyone who is a student at the time of registration is eligible to participate, including graduates of 2023.

Team Composition

  • A maximum of three members per team is permissible.

  • The team may be multi-disciplinary with at least one member being an architecture student.

  • The members of the team can belong to the same or different academic years, colleges, and courses of undergraduate or postgraduate disciplines with at least one member being an architecture student.

Submission Requirements

  1. A statement defining the problem, context, and the choice of site in one A4 sheet as a pdf. Name the pdf as <Code_Statement>.

  2. 5-6 Graphical Slides in 16:9 Size, Landscape orientation, 200 to 300 DPI, with the design process and the drawings (plans, elevations, sections, views, area, and energy calculations) depicted in a suitable graphical scale. Calculations and statements for compliance with zero energy building requirements such as Energy Rating System Index, Energy Conservation Code, Energy Use Intensity, etc. are to be included in the submission. Name the pdf as <Code_Presentation>.

  3. Participants are encouraged to elaborate on decarbonization and calculation of other zero energy design strategies within their design and the processes that surround it.

  4. A recorded presentation of under 5 minutes duration explaining the project shall be included in the submissions, to be uploaded in the submission folder/link provided. Name the recording as <Code_Video>.

  5. Letter of declaration signed by the participant shall be included. (Format attached in the annexure of the brief). Name the letter as <Code_Letter>.

  6. Acknowledgment of references used for case studies and design ideas that have been adapted from sources are to be included in the submission. All entries shall be scrutinized for evidence of plagiarism.

  7. The submissions need to clearly document the design process. It is recommended, though not mandatory, that drawings/ graphics be developed using Autodesk Revit and auxiliary Autodesk BIM tools. The sheets may include plans, sections, elevations, 3D views, joinery details, Dynamo scripts, and anything else that would help communicate the idea better.

  8. Participants' names must not be mentioned anywhere, only the submission code as provided has to be mentioned on the top-right corner of the documents.

  9. Autodesk Docs link for uploading the entry will be communicated to the participants after registration for the competition closes.

Design Parameters and Evaluation

  • Reimagination of a transit hub-innovative thinking.

  • The relevance of the project/intervention at the site, and integration of the project with the urban areas, harmonious with city/regional socio cultural heritage.

  • Addressing of first and last mile connectivity challenges.

  • Sustainability and Carbon-neutral aspects of the design. Factor in the energy, water and other resource requirements during the construction as well as use of the building.

  • The use of zero-carbon design and technologies.

  • The functionality, clarity and organisation/planning of all the various elements worked on for the micro and macro level intervention. Flexibility in design to allow multi-functionality.

  • Originality of the concept, and Innovation in the design.

  • Contribution to urban upgradation through the planned intervention.

  • The overall concept, coherence and graphical expression.

Important Dates

Registrations open: 3rd April 2023
Registrations deadline: 20th October 2023
Submission Deadline: 27th October 2023
Declaration of results on live webinar - December-end

Award and Certifications

Cash Prizes for the top three winners:

1st: Rs 75,000/-

 2nd: Rs. 50,000/-

3rd: Rs. 25,000/-

All participants who have submitted the entries will get a discount voucher of 40% on the BIM for Design Program. 

E - Certificates for all attendees of the workshop

Top 5 winners will get Free entry to Capricot BIM for Design Program (140 Hours)

Top 10 entries to be published on our website

E - Certificates for all participants who have submitted competition entries

Knowledge Resources

Online Self-Learning Modules and webinars by experts in sustainability, BIM, energy simulation, building innovations will be conducted at regular intervals, accessible free of cost for the competition registrants. This will help the teams understand concepts and best practices for high-performance buildings.


For more information, stay tuned.

Other Resources

Knowledge Resources

Jury Members

Meet the Jury Members :

Dr. Uma Maheswaran

COO (South Asia & Central Asia)

SMEC and Surbana Jurong

Dr. Uma was appointed Chief Operating Officer – South Asia & Central Asia in 2017, having previously held the role of CEO and Managing Director, India for the Surbana Jurong Group. Prior to this, Dr Uma led the Sustainable Urban Solutions Division for Jurong Consultants, driving sustainability as a core business value proposition across the entire business chain. Dr Uma has over 10 years’ management experience across various organisations.

Dr. Uma holds a doctorate in Building Science from National University of Singapore and has served as the Nominated Industry Ambassador for sustainability by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore. He was awarded, Young Green Building Individual Award by Building & Construction Authority of Singapore in 2013.

With over 36 years of distinguished experience in the world of architecture, Sushree Mathur, stands as a beacon of innovation and expertise. A seasoned professional in the realm of architectural design, Sushree has lent her creative prowess to numerous pioneering projects, imprinting her mark on India's architectural landscape.

As a dedicated Team Leader and Project Architect at Fountainhead, Sushree has consistently showcased her exceptional ability to conceptualize, plan, and detail intricate designs. Her role extends far beyond conventional architecture, encompassing crucial responsibilities in project coordination, MEP integration, and attending design meetings.

Sushree Mathur

Founding Partner


Over the years, Sushree has spearheaded a multitude of impactful projects, including her pivotal involvement in the prestigious Mumbai Metro Rail Project, Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation, and Delhi Metro Project, to name a few. Her architectural expertise has played a pivotal role in shaping urban infrastructure across India.

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Dr. Namrita Kalsi

Chief Architect

Haryana Mass Rapid Transport Corporation Limited (HMRTCL)

Succeeding in the footsteps of a family Icon, Namrita metamorphosed into an Architect from CCA Chandigarh, which was a dream come true. As Chief Architect of New Delhi Municipal Council, Namrita was responsible for on one hand to preserve the unique character of this prime area of Delhi on the other hand the policies for development had to be implemented. All under the umbrella of design and planning of NDMC projects & Landscape, from sanction to completion & issue of occupation certificate of buildings, safety, sealing and control of use in the premises and providing technical input to other departments of NDMC. She received an award for the most Innovative Urban Infra Architect in 2022 as Architect conversant with Metro technology from the hands of ex-Member of the Railway Board and ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India.

Namrita, is passionate about sustainable design of buildings and infrastructure and says that using state of art technology to eliminate pollutants from atmosphere is fundamental to reducing urban carbon footprint. She believes that synchronization of Man-Machine-Material is vital for timely delivery of city infrastructure and should be fortified with Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning for attaining level next.

Mr. Amit Kumar Jain is an officer of Military Engineer Service and is presently on deputation at Rail Land Development at New Delhi as JGM/Architect since 2019. 

He completed his B. Arch from MACT, Bhopal in 1993, after which he did his Masters in Construction Technology and Management from IIT Delhi in 2009. Further, he has also been awarded Hon’ Doctorate Degree by California Public University in Architecture, Construction Management and Infrastructure Development in 2022.

At RLDA, he is involved in planning of projects of station redevelopment being undertaken on PPP or EPC mode by RLDA.He is also involved in the initiatives related to conceptualization of development of Railway Station as Railopolis in the heart of all the Indian Cities.He has 30 years of vast experience in the field of Architecture and has worked on several prestigious projects related to institutional buildings, sports infrastructure, hospitals, auditoriums, office accommodation and residential projects.

Amit Kumar Jain


Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA)

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Biju Kuriakose

Ar. Biju Kuriakose is the Co-founder of and a Partner at architectureRED, a Chennai-based architecture practice. He has more than 20 years of rich experience working in the realms of architecture and urban design. He has worked with many leading firms in New York after finishing his Master's degree in Architecture and Urban Design from the Pratt Institute. He co-founded architectureRED in 2008 with Ar. Kishore Panikkar, and brought his expertise in sustainable planning and urban design as well as international experience to the firm.

Co-founder and Partner


An architecture graduate from the Rizvi College of Architecture, Biju is a USGBC LEED accredited professional. He has worked on many waterfront projects and has also been a part of an advisory team constituted by the Goethe Institut, Chennai on restoration of waterfronts in urban environments.


Past Competition

Browse through our past competition, to see how our previous year participants have performed.​

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For any inquiry or doubts, email us 


Competition Partner

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Technology Partner

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