A rather tired old office block is to be replaced with a large glazed cube which will be disguising a new ventilation shaft for the Northern line tunnels at Euston.
It’s being provided by High Speed 2 railway, as they are demolishing an old ticket hall from the early days of the London Underground which was repurposed into a ventilation shaft of its own and also housed an electricity substation.
With that building going, a replacement was needed, and they’ve identified a side street around the corner, next to the Magic Circle’s headquarters that had an unimpressive old building that could be torn down without too many complaints, although it will also see a nice row terraced houses also vanish.
The replacement building will contain LU technical equipment, a vent shaft for the Northern Line, and a small substation for UK Power Networks (UKPN), but has no public function. It will be connected by new tunnels to the Northern line beneath the new HS2 Station.
The new building will also be totally freestanding, and the aim is to open up the area a bit to make some of the side-streets less gloomy.
What makes the building stand out though, is the facade, which is not just distinctive in design, but also acts as the air outlets for the ventilation system. This is so that the roof, where the ventilation usually sits can be a flat brown roof and more agreeable to look down on from the surrounding buildings.
Various materials were considered for the façade including brick, glass and perforated or slatted aluminium. Research was undertaken into materials commonly found in LU historic architecture with glazed terracotta, also known as faience, emerging as a potential option.
Initially a blood red glaze, based on the colour of the current substation on Melton Street, was considered for the new cube, but was deemed too dominant when considered against the scale, colour and texture of the surrounding context. Instead, ivory has been selected for the tiles with a gloss, crackled finish.
The lighter colour will also help reflect light into Stephenson Way.
Interestingly, the tile pattern has also been designed explicitly to deter pigeons, based on research into their roosting preferences, to ensure the building doesn’t become an overnight hotel for the flying rats.
If planning permission is granted, then construction will start shortly, and the new 66 metre long tunnel to link it to the Northern line in the springtime. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2020.
The old ventilation system wont be turned off until the replacement is ready, so at least the tube wont get any hotter than it already is.
All images from the planning application.