As a result of a successful proposal to London Underground Limited in 1991, we were commissioned to design the new underground station for the Jubilee Line Extension at Southwark.
The main objective of the design was to maximise passenger comfort and security by minimising the complexity of the station. This was achieved by distinguishing and enhancing the volumetric characteristics of passenger areas. The station is intended to be an easily understood and enjoyable place to begin or end a journey.
Southwark Station comprises several distinctly different spaces. The principle behind these varied and spatially diverse areas is to respect and respond to the civil engineering envelope developed with the engineers. The progress of the passenger from ground level to platform in an easy and clear fashion is paramount, and the generosity of the spaces through which the public moves is enhanced by materials and finishes.
We have set out to create a kind of topographical architecture – a subterranean landscape consisting of alternating experiences of confinement and spatial expansion amplified by contrasting experiences of natural and artificial light.
The main areas are: Blackfriars Road ticket hall; Waterloo East ticket hall; the intermediate concourse; and the lower concourse.
Blackfriars Road Ticket Hall
The station entrance draws on the historically successful ‘grand corner’. The ticket hall entrance was designed with a double canopy over the stairs to the principal public space.
The higher concrete canopy forms a portico above, which sits a great glass corner. The lower canopy, in steel and glass, illuminates and heralds the entrance to the station.
The ticket hall itself is a large, 20m double-volume drum with a gently domed ceiling. The primary structure of this hall is high-quality, white concrete with stainless steel cladding. The glazed upper level of the drum is reminiscent of the wonderful Holden stations of the 1930s.
The intermediate concourse is a large, top-lit subterranean hall, almost 16m high, enclosed by contrasting walls.
One wall, straight in plan and section, contains three arched entrances to escalator tunnels descending to the platforms and is constructed from polished and coursed concrete blocks. Against this plays a curved sloping glass wall, ascending to the glazed crescent- shaped skylight.
The wall was designed by MJP, in collaboration with artist Alex Beleschenko and structural engineers YRM/Anthony Hunt and is a unique result of co-operating disciplines of art and science. The wall is 40m long and 16m high, consisting of 630 triangular panes of blue, enamelled glass held on stainless steel spiders designed to withstand the wind forces generated by the trains in the tunnels.
This cone wall describes and animates light passing across its surface. A pattern of blue lines, drawn at different angles and of varying widths and tones creates a gradation of sparkling light in the upper area, changing to richness of colour in the lower area.
The Lower Concourse occupies a 9m diameter tunnel with two public levels, the higher of which receives the three smaller escalator tunnels from the Intermediate Concourse. The tunnel is clad in stainless steel panels.
Two heroic beacons illuminate curving staircases between the public levels and continuous blue filtered up-lighters complement the effect of the cone wall by ‘de-materialising’ the surface of the tunnel.
- London Underground Limited
- RIBA Award, 2000
- RFAC/BSkyB Millenium Building of the Year, 2000
- Concrete Society Certificate of Excellence – Building Category, 2000
- British Construction Industry Awards – Special Award for Pursuit of Architectural and Engineering Excellence in Public Transport, 2000
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Photos: Peter Durant