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London Underground

2014-2016

Our Design Idiom celebrate's London Underground's design heritage, and brings good design back to the forefront of decision-making and to the heart of all new projects, regardless of scale.

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Our Design Idiom celebrate's London Underground's design heritage, and brings good design back to the forefront of decision-making and to the heart of all new projects, regardless of scale.
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Strategy

The London Underground is the oldest metro system in the world, and its iconic designs, from the roundel brand to the tube map, were commissioned by Frank Pick, the managing director of London Underground in the 1920s. We won the commission for the London Underground Station Design Idiom, an opportunity to celebrate the organisation’s design heritage and bring good design back to the forefront of decision-making and to the heart of all new projects, regardless of scale.

Location:
London, UK
Client:
London Underground
Role:
Urban Designer and Architect
Status:
Idiom completed 2016. Implementation ongoing.
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The challenge was to balance the needs of the stations with those of commerce, identifying what makes a station feel like a station. We looked at lighting, spatial effects, signage, colours and materials, and at accessibility and how people move through spaces.

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We framed the project as an experience, ‘From Platform to Pavement’, and thought about how tube stations can knit into the wider neighbourhood. We had conversations with all levels of the London Underground team, from frontline staff to directors.
We then set out nine design principles to be applied to future projects, from small-scale repairs to major refurbishment and new stations, and collated these into a manual, the ‘London Underground Design Idiom’.

Specificity

‘Ticket Hall B’ at Liverpool Street Station, leading off the Network Rail station, is the first completed manifestation of our Design Idiom.

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We’ve introduced a sense of flow and movement to the convoluted and cluttered spaces with a bronze-finish tubular ceiling system which creates a clear direction for customers entering and leaving the station.
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The effect of this, along with a modular system for the floors and skirting, super-graphics, variations in light levels and the use of contrasting colour, is to make the spaces more readable and way-finding more intuitive.

At Oxford Circus, we’re opening up the station to reveal its perfectly circular form and removing all clutter, including the gateline. A halo of natural light will be filtered in, and branding and art will decorate the walls and ceilings. With the fundamental structure revealed and following our ‘From Platform to Pavement’ principle, we can then shift the focus to making the underground spaces flow better and the ground-level spaces connect better.

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Our work at Camden Town involves injecting the features that make this corner of London memorable into the extended station. We’ve put a great deal of thought into how to design the ‘tidemark’ between the original and the new parts of the station, and as part of this, we’re proposing music-focused retail and a performance venue in the disused vent shaft.

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Sustainability

The Design Idiom outlines a philosophy of ‘designing for the future’ that will improve maintenance and long‐term use of stations, thereby reducing whole‐life costs. By embracing new technologies and understanding their benefits, we can create well-designed stations which will be better for staff and better for customers, far into the future.

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