Design Review led to improvements in the station designs that will benefit Londoners for generations to come.

Sam Richards, head of urban integration, Crossrail

Crossrail, the high frequency commuter service connecting  London and its environs, is Europe’s largest infrastructure project.

It will bring 1.5 million more people within a 60 minute commute of the capital and involve 42 km of new tunnels through central London. The project includes radical improvements to 37 stations as well as the urban environment around them. When its finished, 200 million people a year are expected to use the route.

Crossrail invited Cabe to set up a multi-disciplinary Design Review panel to bring an independent perspective to the scheme and to scrutinise the design quality of the stations. The panel reviewed all of the inner London stations as well as some in South East London. In total it conducted 80 reviews. 

The challenge

From prismatic glass structures at Tottenham Court Road to a biodiverse ‘living roof’ at Farringdon, the individual elements of Crossrail have the power to excite and enrich the lives of commuters travelling through the stations every day. The developments also have the potential to make a positive contribution to their surroundings, transforming public space and the appearance of streets and squares.

Crossrail must be:  

  • Easy to use
  • Inclusive and accessible for all
  • An uplifting experience for commuters, residents, and visitors
  • An addition to the character of local areas with appropriate, high-quality design 

The outcome

Cabe’s Design Review experts looked at all aspects of the station redevelopments and their surrounding areas. By scrutinising the designs and bringing all of the stakeholders together, they pushed the potential for beautiful, striking and inclusive design. 

The specialist panel ranging from architects, urban designers and environmentalists ensured that the review is a debate, rather than a critique of the scheme.

Harbinder Birdi, Hawkins Brown Architects

The panel emphasised the need for light and airy spaces to lift the spirits of its users. For example, they suggested imaginative lighting to counteract low ceilings and constrained space at Tottenham Court Road station. 

Tottenham Court Road Station benefitted from the panel’s experience in 'place making', which improved the station building’s relationship with the public domain

Harbinder Birdi, partner, Hawkins Brown architects

The panel encouraged Crossrail to see the surrounding public realm as an extension of the station experience and provide a legible landscape design that makes it easy for people to find their way. Cabe’s experts also suggested commissioning artists at an early stage to enhance the character of the stations and help orientate people moving through the spaces. They advised on sustainability, accessibility as well as design principles, pulling together the key aspects of a project that will transform London.

The result is exciting new stations and spaces that are not only functional, but uplifting.  

Resources

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