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Working with Network Rail to understand the public’s response to proposed designs for stations across Great Britain.

In 2021 and 2022, the Design Council led the ExploreStation programme with Network Rail as a successor to ThinkStation to engage the public and gather their feedback on new designs for small and medium-sized stations.

A key ThinkStation recommendation was followed to use the priorities from that programme to inform the brief for the Re-imagining Railway Stations competition where 7N Architects was selected as the winner, with their proposal for the HUB Station. 

In further keeping with its own design principles, collaborative, inclusive and community, as well as the ThinkStation recommendations, Network Rail wanted to involve the public in developing the design.  

Image taken by Eddie MacDonald

ExploreStation was unique in scale and scope. It explored how a national framework, which prioritises inclusion, sustainability and future thinking, could be implemented locally to serve community needs, such as identity, home-grown enterprise and connectivity.

The engagement focused on inclusion, to bring together thoughts from people across location, background, ability, gender and age.  

If mass transit was a pleasurable experience for everyone, it would significantly contribute to changing people’s habits to more sustainable travel, and ExploreStation was making that happen through asking people across Great Britain what they want from the HUB Station design to make this a reality. 

The programme incorporates different engagement formats and was led by the Design Council in partnership with Commonplace, who hosted an online platform; Digital Urban who led immersive virtual reality experiences; and The Glass-House Community Led Design, who led playful and interactive workshops and exhibitions. This meant conversations could be held at different levels of depth in response to people’s varied preferences.  

Using VR goggles to move through proposed new station design. 
Image taken by David Lake.


In-person immersive experiences and workshops were held in 11 cities and towns across Great Britain, while the online workshops and Commonplace platform allowed anyone to join in the conversation, no matter where they were based. 

The ExploreStation report launched at the London Design Festival on 21 September. It summarises the programme and its activities, as well as providing key strategic recommendations to Network Rail for its delivery and recommendations for the sector on project development and engagement.

Read the full report

To celebrate the launch of the report, ExploreStation is hosting an in-person immersive virtual reality experience where visitors can use VR goggles to move through proposed new station design, getting a sense of the landscape, activity framework, waiting pods and waiting on the platform. In addition, we will be hosting three panel discussions and one keynote discussion.

Find out how to take part

Mapping London's Design Economy at LDF

17 - 25 September at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Visit the large-scale data visualisation to find out how design is spread across the city, key facts about borough’s from Camden to Croydon and the contribution it makes to London’s economy.

Find out more

Impact in numbers 


types of engagement

cities and towns visited

people were informed of the HUB Station design proposal

feedback contributions on the design

96 %
of participants said they rated the overall experience of the activities as good or very good.

82.7 %
said they found it clear or very clear how the activities they participated in will be shared and used to inform next steps.

social media impressions