The complex of tunnels and entrances at King’s Cross tube station gained another addition recently, a stunning tunnel with a permanently changing lighting effect.

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Under planning for some time, it runs underneath one of the new complex of offices that are sprouting up in the area, and as such had to wait until that building was built.

The exterior of the building is lined with cast iron columns, but only hint at the tube entrance, which is actually around the corner. Less to hide it than probably to stop people walking straight out and onto what will eventually be a road again.

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The entrance though, is a fairly mundane affair with just the basics necessary to indicate that this is indeed a tube station entrance. It’s down below that the wonder begins.

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A new 90 metre long tunnel that also curves ever so slightly so that it is just possible to avoid seeing the exit at the far end as you enter, and are presented with a curving wall of shifting colours.

The design of the tunnel is broken into four sections: the canopy, the fin section, the floor, and the integrated lightwall, which has been designed by Speirs +Major, with technical delivery by The Light Lab.

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The flooring echoes the metal cladding above, with ceramic tiles spread across the floor in a large triangular pattern that almost appear like shadows on the ground.

The lighting effect is in constant flux, with bands of colour moving wave-like along the entire wall, or sometimes the whole thing turns into a barcode of monochrome lines. It’s a quite delightful effect.

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During my visit on a Sunday afternoon, barely a handful of people used the tunnel — although that is likely to change as more of the offices open up to office workers. If you want to enjoy the tunnel in peace and tranquility, now is the time to visit.

After all, there can’t be many railway stations to have an entrance that looks like it came off the set of a sci-fi movie.

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As an aside, the tunnel is now part of the tube station, but owned by the office estate, as indicated by a small sign by the station end noting that you are entering the King’s Cross estate.

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9 comments on “New tunnel opens at King’s Cross station
  1. Greg says:

    At least a six-foot tall security guard didn’t want to rip the camera off your hand as they tend to do in public-looking private areas.

  2. LadyBracknell says:

    Don’t like it. The curve means you cannot see who might be coming the other way and the ever changing lights might not be good for epileptics.

  3. Jackie Shirley says:

    I love it but wish they could have installed escalators that moved on demand like in European countries, considering hardly anyone’s using them at the moment.

  4. D O P says:

    Very cool tunnel, was wondering what it was for on my way to the train this summer. Loved the work.
    http://instagram.com/p/rXXMXRgTFa/

  5. Mark Stoddart says:

    @LadyBracknell
    I’ve been down this tunnel many times when I lived near Kings Cross, it’s very light and can’t see it affecting many people

    @Jackie Shirley
    The escalators do actually run into a very slow standby until someone approaches, assuming this is to show that they are actually operational and to save energy at the same time!

  6. Karl, Dover says:

    Been past this tunnel a few times, never seen anyone use it either, too scared myself in case I end up in an episode of Dr Who!

    Mark Stoddart – I was under the impression that this was a brand new tunnel?

  7. Mark Stoddart says:

    @Karl, Dover
    It is, well “new” as in it’s been open for a couple of months now. See this article from the 10th of June when it was opened to the public: http://www.kingscross.co.uk/press-release-2014-06-10

  8. Richard Chilvers says:

    Great design! I past it a couple if weeks ago and had to back to investigate. It a great way of improving underground passages. The subtle light changes make it feel more like an art installation than a passenger tunnel. Beautiful, surprising and smile inducing, a rare treat for the underground!

  9. Nic Maennling says:

    It amazes me that all people do is moan. I can’t wait to see it on my next trip to London. New and exciting !

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