Studio Egret West unveiled a revolutionary new design vision for the London Underground stations of the future this week, in a design manifesto developed by the London studio that includes more eye-catching tube station entrances, subdued lighting and blue tiling. Developed with Transport for London, the “Station Design Idiom” offers ideal guidelines for repairs of existing stations, as well as large-scale new builds, with the eventual aim of creating a more uniform appearance across the network. The present branding (including the Underground's iconic circle and bar roundel symbol, and its sans-serif typeface) was designed by typographer Edward Johnston in the early 20th century under the direction of TfL's publicity manager Frank Pick. During the same period, architects Harry Ford and Charles Holden developed stations along the District and Piccadilly Lines, while draftsman Harry Beck developed the tube map in 1931.
According to the document, the new vision would retain many of these classic elements. The design studio said: “The document recognises and appreciates the great design heritage that already exists; it inspires great design in all new projects, regardless of scale. At its core is a belief that good design and its implementation require a holistic approach and cannot be achieved in a piecemeal fashion.” Egret West, which is also working on design projects at Camden Town, Oxford Circus, Southgate and King’s Cross Tube stations, adds that the guidelines come as London Underground is in the process of dramatically changing its operating model to bring staff out of ticket offices and into ticket halls, and therefore creating more commercial spaces in in the station. The design principles are the result of consultation with staff at all levels of the London Underground, and covers everything from small interventions such as repainting, through to full station refurbishments.
Studio Egret West has unveiled a revolutionary new design vision for the London Underground stations of the future
The document outlines the design principles behind the ideal Tube station, which include giving a consistent approach to materials, lighting, advertising and retail throughout the station to make it feel more cohesive. The guidelines also call for a considered use of lighting, both to aid orientation and also to focus attention on platform edges, signage and advertising, and for eye-catching station entrances that also seamlessly link to the public realm. They also suggest that glazing should be used on station entrances to bring as much natural light in as possible, while the TfL roundel should be used as a design feature on the station façade. Tube station ticket halls, meanwhile, should be atmospheric and not sterile spaces, and there should be as much natural light used as possible, while materials should be in calm and natural tones, and edges and obstacles should be highlighted using contrasting colours.
Routeways in Tube stations should use dark floor material with contrasting skirting, the document says, while entrances should be framed with light. Lighting should accentuate the curve of the space, while modular panels should be used, with services concealed behind them. Escalators will use impact advertising, which run the length of the escalator, and lighting is again a key element, with suggested designs including a glow around the entrance portal to draw people to the escalators, with more functional lighting integrated into the side panels.
The design principles are the result of consultation with staff at all levels of the London Underground
Key design elements for Tube platforms include platform edge lighting, and lighter materials to provide visual contrast at the edges. Products and services should be arranged evenly to give a sense of order and rhythm while Tube line diagrams should be offset from entrances to encourage people to move down the platforms. External platforms, meanwhile, should follow similar design principles to underground platforms. This includes platform-edge lighting and contrasting floor materials, as well as canopy covers and concealed lighting to wash down walls. For new station updates, the document outlines a consistent range of colours and materials. These include corporate blue and light grey for colours, with textured cast concrete features and stainless steel woven mesh ceilings.
As you've probably gathered, it's a rather specific document, but if they're going for a consistent design, keeping it vague probably wouldn't have been a great idea.If you've got a spare hour or so and have a legitimate interest in design, you can read the document in full yourself HERE.
The project was awarded the Design Champion Award in the 2015 London Design Awards and the plans are currently on show at Platform project space
Gareth Powell, director of strategy for London Underground and chief operating officer of London Rail, said: “The London Underground Station Design Idiom has one simple aim: to bring good design to the forefront of our thinking. Good design should be the driver of decision-making, should permeate every level of the organisation, and should, ultimately, be celebrated by everyone. It doesn’t have to cost more; it’s an approach and an attitude of mind that thinks both broadly and carefully about what we do. If we embrace the idiom’s principles, our customers and staff will thank us for it both today and in years to come.”
The project was awarded the Design Champion Award in the 2015 London Design Awards and the plans are currently on show at Platform project space near Southwark Underground station. It forms part of a series of improvements to the network. Last year, London firm PriestmanGoode unveiled designs for driverless trains, which are set to be rolled out on four network lines by 2020. Studio Egret West has previously worked with Hawkins\Brown on the overhaul of the brutalist Park Hill housing estate in Sheffield, and designed a library in south London that looks like a row of books.