The prestigious Brunel Awards, named after famous British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was organized by the Watford Group and UIC (International Union of Railways), and hosted in the Netherlands by ProRail and Netherlands Railways (NS) with Movares. It was held on 15 October in Amsterdam, Zuiderkerk. The Brunel Awards are awarded once every three years by the Watford Group and UIC ]. The awards ceremony marks the start of the Watford Conference, an international forum for experts working in the railway sector as designers, managers, or architects.
The 2014 Brunel Awards were presented by Frits van Dongen, Chief Government Architect of the Netherlands and chairman of the international jury, and UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux. In total, 31 awards and commendations were presented within four categories: 1) Stations; 2) Industrial Design, Graphical Design and Art; 3) Technical Infrastructure and Environment; and 4) Rolling Stock.
• Stations: “The time that a station was merely a thoroughfare is definitely behind us. Stations are now a destination in and of themselves,” said van Dongen. Awards were presented to France, Japan, Hungary, Portugal, and the Netherlands.
• Industrial Design, Graphical Design and Art: France and Japan and the United States received awards in this category. In French stations, temporary artwork is displayed or, for example, a piano is installed for travelers to play. “Refreshing and inspiring,” according to the jury. “Waiting becomes quality time.” Japan received an award for a bus line that was set up after the tsunami destroyed the railway in 2011. NYMTA Capital Construction received a Brunel Commendation for the Fulton Transportation Center.
• Technical Infrastructure and Environment: Finnish, French, Japanese, and Austrian railway companies received awards for the sustainable and intelligent construction of a new covered maintenance depot, a bridge, and a railway viaduct.
• Rolling Stock: Two Japanese railway companies got an award for the design of new trains, including a luxury “Cruise Train” that “reminds one of the Orient Express.” In Finland, a modern diner car with rotating chairs received an award.
• Overall Jury Award: ProRail, NS, and several municipalities were given the “Overall Brunel Jury Award” for their “consistently high level of design quality in all aspects, ranging from large to small stations, station innovation, and the way stations that suit their environment. Nothing is standard. Even the smallest details have been carefully considered,” according to the jury. “This ‘Dutch Style’ is unique in the world in terms of its consistency.”
The English version of the jury report can be found at http://www.watford-group.org/brunelaward.