If you want a sneak peek of what the new stations will look like when Crossrail hands over to the Elizabeth line, a new book has been published all about them.
In Platform for Design, Hugh Pearman guides you through the design of the 10 new stations and 30 existing stations that will form the Elizabeth line. The book explores the common components that will be consistent across the route to create a familiar identity, and highlights the unique architectural features and works of art at each station that reflect the character of the local communities they serve.
What the book shows is not just what each station will look like, with a series of images and 3D drawings, but also some of the otherwise easy to overlook details.
The way some of the fittings have been designed to help absorb noise, or railings designed not to cut little heads if children run around, or the use of hard-wearing woods for the seating.
It notes that the stations are physically rated to last at least 120 years, so the design has to be both modular to support low-cost maintenance, but also eye-catching so that they are not swept away by fashions in the future.
Details such as how sensors have been prebuilt into equipment to alert engineers of maintenance issues, how heat from the soil around the tunnels will warm office blocks above, and fans under the platforms suck away heat from passengers.
The tunnel platforms will be a unified design, but the above the ground buildings are being designed with the local urban landscape in mind. A book written by architecture and design critics is going to use terms like expansive and urban realm a lot, but beyond the excited hype about the design, there is genuine insight into the thinking behind the designs.
Many of the stations will probably become fodder for tour guides pointing out the subtle details, such as the WW1 memorial coins incorporated into the walls at Woolwich, to the way the light fittings were specially commissioned at Tottenham Court Road.
It’s also fun to learn that when the architects showed off plans for a pre-fab design at Custom House, they arrived with the entire station as model kit, in a Hornby model station box.
The signage has been given an overhaul, and it was the vast space of the pedestrian tunnels that permitted the use of free standing signs in corridors in a way that has not been possible before.
And the platforms themselves will be an expanse of emptiness — with most of the signs, lighting, security cameras and other clutter designed away into the walls so that nothing obstructs the eye along the entire platform.
Aside from the vast station boxes, it’s often the tiniest of features that go unnoticed, but are the result of complex thinking about their use. This book reveals some of those secrets.
It’s a heady commentary, very upbeat as it is an industry publication, but it nonetheless offers a teaser of what is to come in December 2018, and the photos should really start to excite people about what is being built beneath the streets of London.