The rejuvenation of the London
Are they doing a good job or is it all going horribly wrong?
By Paula Lacey
Submission date 12/04/2010.
The interiors of the London Underground are distinct and unique. Did the new design of the jubilee line improve on the old or have they forgotten to design an attractive comfortable interior space like the previous Undergrounds have achieved in the past?
My thesis covers the design and interior of the London Underground, a design that most people in the world are familiar with and can relate to. This iconic design is still very much a part of the London experience. It retains its intrinsic design and its original character but, never the less it has it changed and evolved with the onset of technology. I will discuss the interior design of the buildings, internal spaces and platforms and how important theses spaces are to the passenger to make their journey a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
London’s Underground has a long and interesting history so i intend In Chapter One to cover the history and development of the London Underground from its inception to the present day, with specific reference to the interior design of the stations and platforms.
In Chapter Two I will be examining the design of the old stations and comparing their design and the design of the new Jubilee Line in detail. I will consider the effect of the both designs on the traveller’s experience.
In the following chapter I will look at how artwork and posters are being displayed to make the Underground a more stimulating and interesting experience for everyone.
The London Underground is the most iconic public transport in London and the world. It was one of the first Underground railways ever built and is used by ‘three million passengers daily and serves 275 stations’ (Transport for London. 13, Oct, 10) to this day. Created in 1863, with only a few stations that were initially fortunate enough to be connected, such as Paddington and Farringdon, the London Underground instantly became a popular mode of transport as it was the most convenient and most comfortable way to travel at the time. Steam trains were not allowed to operate in the inner area of London and it was difficult for the people who lived outside London to commute to work in the centre. These workers subsequently moved closer to the city and this, in turn, had the effect of creating slums. ‘The Underground was the brainchild of one man, Charles Pearson, who persuaded Londoners that they needed a transport network beneath the streets to enable them to get in and out of the city more easily’( Harvard History. 5, Oct, 10). This made it possible for people to live further away from the city and thus had the effect of vacating the slums.
The method used to build the first London Underground lines was known as ‘cut and cover’. As seen in (figure.1,2), trenches were built and rails were placed in the ground and roofed over. The trains were then put in place and the first underground railed train system through a major city was opened. The idea was that the underground would be powered by compressed air that would push the trains through the underground. But, after further developments, it was found that there were too many air leakages throughout the tunnels. Therefore, they were forced to open up the first underground train system using steam trains. This had the effect of polluting the air throughout the tunnels, making the atmosphere uncomfortable and injurious to the health of the passengers and the workers. As the London Underground became successful, more stations were commissioned and the designers and engineers were forced to iron out its obvious flaws. The cut and cover method caused too much disruption when it was first built as it entailed closing down roads and streets for very long periods of time. Consequently, the engineers devised another method of tunnelling which used a tunnelling shield. This type of device is still in use today. This tunnelling process beneath the ground made the construction of the underground less inconvenient for the London public.
Figure 1: Cut and cover method. Figure 2: Sculpture of cut and cover method.
As time moved on, there were more and more people using the London Underground in order to gain access to the inner city. Because of the increased usage, the London Underground had to consider the design more carefully in order to keep the passenger numbers up and to keep the trains running. At the time of its inception there seems to have been little thought put into the design of the interiors of the stations and platforms at the start of the Underground development. Previously, the underground was dark and undeveloped. In 1933, the Managing Director, Frank Pick, was part of the newly-formed London Passenger Transport Board. This organisation dealt with transport design policy and Pick introduced his own visual ideas to the board. Among the changes he made were changing the ‘entrances of the Underground which had been poorly-lit, dark lobbies, like the entrance to hell, became open, bright and airy spaces’(Forty, 1986, p225). This new design was a great improvement for the passengers, as everything in the stations underground became more visible, there was no natural light in the underground. The underground design is simple throughout. This curved design was achieved by the use of the tunnelling shield from the tunnelling method that was used. This method was also used when constructing the platforms and the entrances down to the platforms. Initially stairs were used as a means of entering the stations and later escalators were introduced. The types of materials used for construction of the interiors were white tiling with a strip of blue or red (or both) featured along the walls in places. These materials were easily accessible and were simple to replace and maintain. They were therefore an ideal choice when considering the design of the underground. The colours of the London Underground are predominantly red and blue, with the same colours featuring in the iconic London Underground sign a red circle with a blue line through it inscribed with block white text. These were designed by Edward Johnston in 1916. This typeface is used by the underground in all of its signs. It is part of its corporate identity and has been unchanged since 1916. This typeface is particularly noticeable against other type faces that are featured in the posters that line the interior of the underground in the majority of its platforms. It is a unique typeface which makes the posters and the Underground sign stand out. The posters featured on most Underground stations are located in every possible space. They can be positioned on the walls, along the escalator staircases and numerous other places.
As the design of the London Underground evolved and adjustments were made, it became more accessible and affordable for all classes of passengers who wanted to travel in this mode transport. This necessitated a re-design of the carriages to transport the growing number of passengers. In 1935 the new design included places for standing and seating. The initial design had provided for seating only. In 1940, London was under the threat of bombing by the Germans and the London Underground gained a different use, that of providing shelter from the bombs for the people of London. Seventy-five stations were used at that time and they became a temporary home for millions of people every night. These people slept on the platform with their own bedding. They experienced trains passing regularly every day and night with passengers on board ’Food trains’ were also provided and these passed by regularly, selling food and goods and helping to foster high spirits as the bombings occurred above ground. However, Bank station was an exception. It was unfortunately destroyed when a bomb slid down the escalator shaft and exploded in the centre of the station. Sixty-five people seeking shelter in the interior were killed. The damaged station and its platforms were quickly replaced after the war.
Figure 3,4: Londoners using the underground for shelter.
In 1969 the Victoria Line was opened. This was the first fully automated line to operate on the Underground. This meant that the work of the drivers was minimised. They were merely required to supervise the driving of the trains as the trains were now computer-programmed to stop and start at each platform. The Victoria Line was also the first line to have automatic ticket machines installed for the convenience of the passengers. These machines saved time and there was no longer a necessity for manned ticket boxes. All that was needed was a customer care-booth at each station to deal with any problems that might occur.
Figure 5: the Underground Bar and Circle sign.
‘The London Underground is 618 square miles long and is experienced by one million travellers daily’.(Bayman, Connor, Michael Praed ,1994). It caters for everyone. Most people who have travelled in London have probably used the London Underground. It is the best and most efficient way to get around the city of London. It was deliberately designed to be easily accessible and is classed by the London Transport Organisation as a ‘world class tube for a world class-city’. (LU Good Practice Guide ,2006). As the passengers travel on the London Underground, they not only succeed in getting from ‘A’ to ‘B’, but their travelling time is also a visual experience. They are subjected to its interior not only once, but twice, as they enter and exit each station. Regular commuters using the Underground can travel fourteen or more times a week. The interior of the London Underground is exceptional. It is instantly recognisable and unique to London. Each station has its own particular personality and style as each station was designed and constructed in the movement of the period. This has been achieved in various different ways, by changing the structures of the stations and the designs of the ticket halls, which often have their own individual style. Similarly, the escalators and platforms are often distinctive in their appearance.
Figure 6: The London Underground Map.
The interior of the London Underground is what makes every station memorable for its passengers. Each interior is noticeably different, with one constant iconic detail which serves to remind the passenger that it is the London Underground. This is the recognisable circle and bar symbol which is featured at every station. The London Underground design as a whole has been developed to be of high quality. It is accessible to everyone and is safe, secure and reliable. This is evident in the vast numbers of people using it today. It was said by journalist, Andrew Martin, that ‘London is one thing, the London Underground is another thing but in a way the London Underground is London’.(Harvard History 5,oct,2010).
The design of the London Underground is ever-changing with the evolution of design and technology. Work is continually in progress on the London Underground. As it ages, constant repairs need to be done to damaged equipment and maintenance crew’s work around the clock, making it more efficient as less line closures are necessary. Workers work more often at night and non-peak times and the public are constantly informed of any closures. The London Underground is used by most Londoners and visiting tourists as it is the most efficient way to travel around London. The majority of the London Underground stations are coated in tiles. As previously stated, they are made from a readily available material and can be easily replaced if damaged. They created designs with these tiles to produce an individual design in each station and the evolution of materials used in the stations throughout the years is noticeably visible. For example, Convent Garden is made up of a traditionally-tiled pattern. The design of the Holborn station, however, is very different. Here, designers have used their knowledge of advertising and publishing to create a poster which covers the entire wall with an advertisement for the National History Gallery, situated only a nine-minute walk away. Convent Garden has remained true to its original design, proudly showing off its tiled designs and demonstrating the craft of design through tiling. Although there are some advertisements on the walls, they do not detract from the overall view of the design, but merely serve to cover up the more boring and duller parts of the creative design, you can see this in (figure 7) where they have left the brown tiles visible. These tiles stretch along the wall up and over the platform to the other side highlighting the large curved platform. This makes the platform more big, bright and interesting.
Figure 7: Convent Garden Station. Figure 8: Holborn Station.
In relation to Holborn, this is a very clever form of advertising as the local attractions are clearly displayed enabling the viewer to instantly ascertain what is taking place in the surrounding area. Even if the onlooker has no intention of visiting the museum at that particular time, the advertisement serves as a reminder of what is happening.
Another station that has utilised this particular advertising ploy is Charing Cross London Underground station. Images of portraits from the, National Portrait Gallery Museum have featured here. The gallery is located nearby, only a five-minute, short walking distance from the station. In this advertisement in (figure 4, 5)they have informed the public about current exhibitions using images and text. This can be clearly seen by the person standing on the platform and also by the person on a passing train, as the train pauses long enough for the passengers to disembark or access the train. The passengers staying on the train have enough time to read a few lines of the advertisement to ascertain what is going on only five-minutes’ walk away from this particular station.
Figure 9: Charing Cross. Figure 10: Charing Cross.
This information and the accompanying images on these platforms are a great help to all passengers, especially the tourists. They are a very effective tool in spreading information throughout the underground and the city of london.
As I have discussed earlier, most underground stations have displayed vast amounts of advertisements over the years and these have become a major part of the identity of the London Underground. However, one particular line, namely the Jubilee Line, has never really displayed posters on its platforms. The Jubilee Line was created in stages. The line from Stanmore to Green Park first opened in 1979 and later was extended to Stratford, this line opened in 1991. The extension took its path through the dockland where they had planned to place the new business and residential quarter and made its way to Stratford where they had planned to place the Olympics.
Figure 11: Waterloo Figure 12: Southwark
These stations were built much bigger than usual to accommodate the large numbers of people who were expected to relocate in this area which was being continuously redeveloped. The ticket halls, in particular, are much bigger than those in other stations to service the growing numbers of users, with the platform space staying relatively small, the same size as in other underground platforms. The station was created by the use of a tunnelling method called the ‘tunnelling shield’. This method utilises a perfectly round drill that drills the wall and allows the drillers to put up metal panels to keep a perfect round tunnel that will not collapse into it. This is why most of the platforms are perfectly cylindrical. This method is used to this day. It is used to create all parts of the underground below the surface including escalator shafts, walkways and platforms. As this method of creating the tunnels is still used, this is why the tunnels are quite small and carry the curved look. The Jubilee Line used this method also and it is visible in most of its stations as seen in fig and .
The Jubilee line is known for its great architectural stations. Canary Wharf is notorious in that it was very difficult to build as it was situated below water level.
Figure 13, 14, 15: Canary Warf Tube station.
It is designed in such a way as to spread the natural light all the way down to the open planned platforms which are just below the entrance. This effect is created by the great curved, glazed canopies at the entrance. Most of the stations on the Jubilee Line have taken this into account in their designs, as they have all tried to bring in as much sunlight as possible into the platform space. It is universally acknowledged that the London Underground is the best and most efficient way of negotiating the city of London. However, in reality, on closer examination, the passengers are actually entering dark tunnels which are intimidating and uninviting. This can be quite a scary experience, for many people and when the natural sunlight is spread all the way down to the entrance of the train, this could make the experience less frightening for some people. The design of bring as much sunlight as possible into the platform spaces, was in some cases, difficult. The designers were forced to use regular artificial lighting to fill the platform spaces. This can be seen in platforms at Westminster and London bridge that are located in the built up areas in the inner city. These stations have little access to sunlight as they are in a high building area which blocks out much of the light and are also very deep below the ground.
Figure 16: Westminster platform. Figure 17: London Bridge.
These two platforms on the Jubilee Line are quite different from the rest. They are lacking one of the key components that most underground platforms have – one could say, individual character. The Jubilee Line has little or no advertisements on its platform space. All these advertisements portray to the person on the platform and to the passerby is the name of the station, what line it is on and little else. This gives the on-lookers nothing to look at except the dull grey panels and boring features throughout. This one could say, gives the impression that there is nothing of worth in this area to look at. It gives the illusion of sophistication and minimalist design. The platform gives the intention to the passengers that there is nothing of interest in this area except its name.
The Southwark station is located in a very large business district. Thousands of passengers go through it daily. However, some of these passengers are not merely commuters, they are getting off at this particular station to go and visit a very popular modern museum in London, the Tate Museum. It is located a short distance down the road and can be found by following coloured lighting poles that start at the entrance of the Southwark Underground Station (figure 18, 19). These are the only indications to direct passengers to the museum. From the visitor’s point of view, there is no indication on the platform or in fact in the entire station, that the museum is located nearby other than these poles. There are no advertisements displayed on the walls no pointers as to the location. The passengers are left guessing as to whether they have alighted at the correct station for their destination. You can see in (figure 21) and the coloured poles that I am relating to.
Figure 18, 19: Google maps view of the coloured poles that you follow to go to the Tate Museum.
Figure 20: Charing Cross.
The London Underground delivers trains to each station regularly and even more frequently in the more populated areas. It is fast. The trains speed in and out of the stations. The stations which are located on the Jubilee Line are established in densely populated areas which will be even more heavily populated in the future with more housing developments planned. The Jubilee Line extension was created with the inclusion of all the modern amenities that would be expected in any underground station in this day and age. State-of-the-art facilities were installed in every station. Everything was well thought out, especially the choice of materials. The old underground stations had unique interiors and so, too, does the Jubilee Line. These distinctive architectural buildings i am speaking of were the work of Charles Holden. Holden worked along with Frank Pick to design a number of buildings for the London Underground. ‘Holden’s architecture was thought to be functional at the time and accessible. More importantly he resisted the revivalist architecture of the period with his own sense of the modern’ (www.charlesholden.com, 9, Jan, 11). This can be thought the same for the Jubilee Line its interiors are thought to look futuristic, modern, minimalistic and space-aged. This effect is created by using dark industrial panels throughout. The one station on the Jubilee Line extension that stands out from the rest is West Ham. This particular station is made up of red bricks that are brightly-coloured and which fit into the natural surroundings. This, however, is one of the stations which is not located underground. The platforms are open to the natural light. The interiors of the ticket halls are constructed in red brick with glass tiles surrounding the walls to allow for as much light as possible to enter. The interiors of West Ham are bright. Even on the dullest, cloudy days its red and glass materials stand out brightly. Why weren’t the interiors of the other stations of the jubilee line constructed with bright colous? The interiors of the other underground stations, Westminster, Waterloo, Southwark, London Bridge, Bermondsey, Canada Water, and North Greenwich are all located below or semi below ground and their interiors are all dark greys, navys and blues. These are all dark colours and they are below ground. Artificial lighting was necessary to brighten up the platforms, but theses stations are still dark and unpleasing to the eye. Why did they use bright colours on the stations above ground such as West Ham and not below ground where they should really be used? Travelling underground can be frightening for some people and I think if they used brighter colours such as these reds, they would make the passengers more comfortable on their journey.
Figure 21: West Ham. Figure 22: West Ham. Figure 23: West Ham.
The previous undergrounds were built with tiling that was easily incorporated into the underground. These tiles were simple to replace and allowed for different designs to be created. The platforms in previously-built stations were individually designed. Good examples of this can be seen in Covent Garden and Russell Square stations as seen in fig . These stations were built on the Victoria line you can see that they all have a blue line above the stations name, this lets the passengers now what line they are travelling on. This tiling was used in the entire Victoria line stations each station with a different colouring of tilling and different design.
Figure 24: Convent Garden Figure 25: Russell Square.
On this Victoria Line, the wall space is well thought out and each tile is carefully placed to create an overall exceptional design, you could say it is art. The Jubilee Line, in contrast, has been panelled over with grey, unexciting panels. While the materials used in the construction of the Jubilee Line have been carefully chosen and are functional, accessible and easy to replace when damaged, they are an ideal choice of materials to use for the Underground.
Figure 26: Southwark Figure 27: illustraction by author.
Above is an image which I photoshopped with my own design using red and white. This particular London Underground station is located at London Bridge station. I did this to compare interiors with bright colours and dark greys. I think the use of grey panels is uninteresting and unpleasant in a public space. However, if some colour is incorporated into the design, as it was in the older stations, it makes them much more interesting and appealing to look at. The London Underground is used by over three million passengers daily, a large number of people subjected to bland, featureless and uninteresting interiors. Did the creators of the Jubilee Line deliberately set out to create these plain, boring interiors or did they just neglect to concentrate on the design of the interiors, being too concerned with the architecture? Have the designers become lazy? They seem to have selected one type of panel and repeated it everywhere possible.
A very noticeable characteristic of the London Underground is the display of advertisements and art works. These, in my opinion, make the experience of going into a cramped, small underground tube station with large numbers of strangers at peak hours to be a joyful and stimulating experience, and I think any other passenger who has travelled on the London Underground would agree. The practice of advertising with posters was started by Frank Pick who helped create better travelling conditions for passengers in 1933. He created these adverts to influence people to travel on the underground. This was a publicity drive. Contemporary artists were hired and asked to create modern graphic posters. This campaign was a huge success. It was said by the Transport Museum that it changed the public face of the
‘underground forever and the poster that featured the slogan, ‘No need to ask a policeman’, was the first in a long illustrious line of posters which established the Underground as an important patron of the arts and an acknowledged leader in the field of poster publicity’. (London Transport Museum,29, Nov, 2010).
Figure 28: No need to ask a Policeman poster. Figure 29: Summer Sales posters.
Throughout the years, advertisements have been displayed in the underground. This has constituted a major part of the income of the London Underground. Advertisements are placed in every conceivable place possible. The subjects of the advertisements are boundless. There are not only graphically printed posters placed on the walls but, with the advances in technology, video screenings of advertisements can now be viewed on the station platforms. An example of this can be seen in fig 23. This advertisement can be seen by the passengers that are waiting on the platforms, but unfortunately is not visible to the passengers on the trains. The train obstructs the line of sight to the projected blank screen.
Figure 30: example of video advertising.
The most viewed part of the London Underground are the walls of the platforms. These are viewed by every passenger using the London Underground. This is the reason the majority of the advertisements are located here, in varying shapes and sizes, to seize the observer’s attention. This is achieved by the use of colourful text and creative, sometimes even seductive, imagery. Another very important location advertisements are positioned is on the escalators which transport the passengers in and out of the London Underground. This location gives the passengers a chance to inspect the advertisements more closely than they would between the stops of their journey.
Frank Pick, who instigated the displaying of advertisements in the London Underground, was dissatisfied by the quality of some of the designs that were being produced. He
‘reached beyond the confines of the fine art and into the realm of design to create an interconnected to the graphic elements of LU, particularly the signage, until 1920, when he began to employ artists such as Edward McKnight Kauffer’(PFA p 23).
Today, there is a fine border between art and advertisements on the London Underground. There are now organizations in existence which aid in the reproduction of art on the London Underground and follow on the ideas of Frank Pick, one such organization being the Platform for Art. They:
‘support emerging practices and celebrate the work of established artists. They want to contribute to ongoing debates around where art can be located and what it can be, encouraging our audience to reconsider the arena in which they are travelling and to find that a refreshing or intriguing experience’ (PFA, p25).
‘At this time they are also highly aware of our distinctive heritage, and platform for art continues the tube’s crucial relationship with art culture as part of this process’ (PFA, p6).
One such work that the Platform For Art has developed is to be found in the Gloucester Road Underground station. This station has had many different exhibits shown on its walls. The interiors of Gloucester Road are great, high, barrel vaults that date back from its construction in 1868 and which serve the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines. Examples of artworks that have been shown there are those designed by Aoshima. In my opinion, the inclusion of such work makes this platform more attractive to the average passenger. The art works on this Underground line are, in my opinion, more attractive, more exciting and distinguished than the grey plain panels that are seen on the Jubilee Line. They have a lasting effect on the commuter. Comparing these art works to the interior of the Jubilee Line, I think there is no question which station is more attractive to the eye. Commuters may also remember this station better for its exclusive interior, rather than the station’s name, as it is more recognisable for the art work on display in it. It does not look like all the other platform stations. It is distinctive and easy to recall, compared to the Jubilee Line whose interiors are all dark greys or navy blues. The Jubilee Line is not user-friendly for the poorly-sighted, who would have difficulty distinguishing between the stations, as they are all similarly dark coloured. The actual name, signage is the only very noticeable difference, but the poorly-sighted may find it difficult to see and consequently be unable to read it. However, the London Underground is considered one of the best modes of transports in the world from the point of view of the disabled, this was said by a wheelchair confined commuter on trip on the Jubilee Line . It caters for people with all disabilities, including the deaf, with automatons telling you where the trains are going to and coming from for their convenience. The blind can avail of information provided in Braille, which includes a detailed map marking the location of each stop to enable them to count their stops. Appropriate lifts are installed at most stations for the facility of disabled travellers.
Figure 31, 32: Art work by Aoshima, Gloucester Road conditioned by the PFA.
The following is a very colourful description of one of Aoshima’s works on Gloucester Road in the book, Platform For Art:
‘Imagine you are standing on a tube platform; instead of the dulled colours of the interior of the tube station, there is a bright image depicting a multicoloured landscape. But this landscape seems to be from another world, a future world perhaps. Towards the top of the image, the towers depicted the landscape appear to peak though the brick arches that support the ceiling of the station.
This makes the entire exterior scene appear continuous with the interior of the tube station you are standing in. Until the moment when the tube train comes into view and the work falls into relief behind it’ ( PFA, p 19).
The art work portrayed on the Gloucester Road platform allows the passenger to experience an imaginary land while they are waiting for their train to arrive. It gives them the opportunity of escaping into a fantasy world. Other works that have the same effect of letting the passenger escape their dismal surroundings are designed by Eduardo Paolozzi.
‘A glance out of the carriage window was usually prompted only by need to make a swift check on the station’s name. But the inexcusable dreariness of the underground at last gave way to more enlivening alternative at Tottenham Court Road in 1985’ (Eduardo Paolozzi Projects, p27).
Eduardo Paolozzi used glass mosaics to fill this underground station with colour and dramatic imagery. Not only had it represented the streets above by mosaicing Egyptian mummy cases referencing the British Museum.
Figure 33, 34, 35: Eduardo Paolozzi Projects 1975-2000 p 27-31.
I think the Jubilee Line stations interiors should be changed to brighter more creative interiors for the commuter. You may think this can’t be done but recently a eell known English DIY chain created an unusual advertisement. They converted an old railway station, Citadel station witch is located in the north of England into a comfortable living space. They incorporated their home furnishings and many of their other products, stating that their particular store could make ‘any space wonderful’, and they could and did convert this old train station into a bright, attractive, interesting and warm place to travel through.
Figure 36: The platform before the transformation. Figure 37: Bridge before the transformation.
Figure 38: The transformation. Figure 39: the transformation.
Figure 40: The transformation.
Figure 41: Perspective view of the overall platform.
The process of doing this took four days and they worked around the clock to finish the platform as quickly as possible. The makeover was temporary, but the commuters didn’t want it to be. They even started a campaign on Facebook to keep it there ‘Almost 8,000 members signed up in a bid to maintain the vibrant paint scheme and garden creation at busy Citadel station.’(www.diyweek.net, 11,Dec, 2010). There were hundreds of comments made by people on blogs, Facebook and other social networking sights, who wished their own commuting station, could be transformed into a similar vibrant way. Although this is not in the underground or in the inner city it is an example of what can be achieved in any station, while still keeping the stations unique qualities. I believe stations such as those that appear on the Jubilee Line can be transformed in the similar fashion. It is obvious that they have not changed the building in any way just placed new materials and other objects into the space to make it an unusual and memorable space.
Creative projects like these have occured all over the world and in different types of stations, but most of the projects have remained in place as a permanent interior. Stations and platforms such as these have become famous throughout the world and are widely known for their creative interiors for example Moscow seen in fig . They have made these interiors more interesting, not only for the tourist but for the everyday passengers. These projects have gained notoriety through social networking sites and by word of mouth from the people who have visited them. Examples of these platforms can be seen in the following figures.
Figure 42: Athens Underground, Greece. Figure 43: Nepenthes, America.
Figure 44: Ukraine, Kharkov. Figure 45: Lille, France.
Figure 46: Stockholm, Sweden. Figure 47: Lyon, France.
Figure 48: Moscow
Figure 49: London Underground Commisioned by the PFA
Figure 50: Rio de Janeiro Figure 51: Tashkent
Figure 52: Kaohsiung, The Dome of Light art work by Narcissus Quagliata.
The underground stations in Athens show classical sculptures which relate to their colourful history. It is not possible to travel through Athens without seeing parts of this history, as the city is built on history. The Jubilee Line obviously has very little history as it is newly constructed. However, this should not be an obstacle and should not prevent them from doing what these station and platforms did, creating a unique and memorable able travelling experience. Although there is not much history as of yet, they do have specific locations of importance such as Southwark, which is located near the famous Tate Museum and also Stratford which is hosting the 2012 Olympics. If they showed art works that would help the commuter to see that the Tate Museum and the Olympics Stadium is located nearby , they would observe something stunning and memorable able on their way to these locations. Also, this would make them stand out. It would make them more recognisable to the commuter that particular station is the correct station to alight from. Another station in the second largest city in Taiwan, Kaohsiung has taken the same idea as the PFA and placed art work throughout their stations. This can be seen in fig,45 . This art work is permanent and makes this station instantly recognisable. Referencing this back to the London Underground Narcissus Quagliata the artist that created this incredible piece of artwork can be seen as a modern Eduardo Paolozzi.
To conclude I strongly agree that the London Underground is a ‘world class tube for a world class city’. I think the London Underground has succeeded in fulfilling the needs of everyday commuters and tourists with a well run mode of transport that is helpful to everyone from all areas of the world who are either living or just visiting London. The Underground is clean, its stations are well-maintained, its maps are easy to read, its signs are easy to follow and its trains run with frequency. It has proven to be a mode of transport that is always trying to better itself, through advances in technology in the engineering to the architecture of the overall buildings of the tubes themselves. But in opinion, in the last decade, I think the London Underground has neglected its interiors and the newly-extended Jubilee Line is proof of this with its uninteresting, unimaginative, dull, grey panels lining its dark tunnels deep below ground. Although the materials used in the interiors of the Jubilee Line extension may be functional, they are dreary and unexciting for a visiting tourist such as myself. If they give me this impression, I wonder how it affects the average Londoner who travels frequently on this line. The emphasis of the design of the interiors is severely lacking in imagination compared with Frank Pick’s innovative interiors and his ideas which were incorporated into the Underground in 1933. To their credit, however, the architecture is stunning. In particular, this is noticeable in their efforts to incorporate as much sun light into the Underground as possible. This was a success in a number of stations as they had access to direct sunlight and the sunlight could make its way down to the platforms. But this was only achievable for the stations that are new and not in built-up areas such as London bridge Station (fig 13). I personally think they should have put more thought into the interiors of the platforms to make them more interesting. London bridge has dark blue panels, grey ceilings and grey doors. In essence it is dark, no natural light can make its way down to the platform as it is in a built-up area and located deeply below ground. They have used a large amount of artificial light to brighten up the platforms to enable commuters to feel comfortable in the dark space below the ground, but I think if they used brighter, more interesting panels it would be more pleasing to the average passenger.
In the past designed platforms and stations such as convent garden (figure 7) you can really see the unique design that is portrayed on all the walls of the station. The use of colours are bright appealing and easy on the eye. As these colours are light there is only an average number of artificial lighting on the platform. The colours light brown and light yellow are calm and composed, the pattern created, is simple and not to cluttered. The brown pillars that stretch up the curved walls and over to the other side of the platform define and embrace the curved interior, it looks large and open the whole platform is exposed. The advertisements are also a part of the platforms design, placed in certain locations not to take away from the design of tiles. Comparing Convent Gardens interiors which are featured on the Victoria line to London bridge which is part of the newly extended Jubilee Line, the interiors are completely different. London bridge is made of repetitive dark blue panels and grey, these are placed all the way through the station as seen in fig . You cannot see the entire interior of the platform as the advances of technology has given them glass doors at the edge of the platform. These only open when a train has approached and opened to let passenger disembark or gain access to the train. These glass doors are a safety mechanism to stop passengers that are weighting on the platform from falling or jumping onto the tracks, there very efficient and are a well designer safety feature. However, they make it quiet difficult to see to the other side of the platform. They have used artificial lighting only on the pedestrians weighting area of the platform, they have no light what so ever on the tracks or the opposite wall of the tracks. They are completely dark until the train approaches witch fills in the dark space. Advertisements usual make an appearance in most underground stations and platforms but it does not on the London bridge interiors. Advertisements are not portrayed on any of the Jubilee Line extension interiors, this makes this particular line stand out more from the Underground lines. It is thought to make it futuristic, modern and less cluttered but I think it makes it boring and uninviting to the passenger. In addition to the lack of advertisements there is no informing the passengers what is located outside the walls of the stations. An example of this is Southwark which is located in a large business district. They neglect to inform not only the regular commuters but the tourist passengers that the well visited iconic Tate Museum is just five mints walk from the station. The Tate Museum is widely known and visited by a number of tourist and citizens of London daily and the only information given to its location is selected coloured pole outside the station as seen in (figure 18,19) . These poles guild you to the location of the Tate Museum. If you were to disembark at this station you would have no impression that you have vacated at the write stop unless you left the station and looked around for direction. In relation to this I think advertisements are an excellent idea and should be used to inform the public to what amenities lay outside particular stations. Advertisements have been used to inform the public of unique amenities before on the London’s Underground, you can see these in such stations as Holborn and Charing Cross (figure 9, 10). These tell the passenger that this is the write station to vacate for their destination of these particular amenities.
The Jubilee Line extension has proven to be very different from the other older stations and platforms, with its modern facilities and un cluttered interiors. It could be thought of as minimal, contemporary and futuristic, but I think it is bland and boring. I think the interiors of the platforms and station are bare with little or no design in them however the architecture is well thought-out, I think they forgot about the interiors. They have repeated panelling and tiles throughout the stations and have not designed any individual designs on the walls of the platforms or interior of the station, except for different dark colours used. The stations don’t even feature advertisement, there just plain with the stations name on the walls, they give you nothing to look at. I think the platforms of the Jubilee Line extension are uninteresting to look at, their bland dark spaces below ground.
But I think the interiors of the Jubilee Line extension can be changed for the better. The work of the PFA has helped bring art work to the London’s Underground for years. It has brought such works as City Glow, Mountain, Whisper by Aoshima to Gloucester Road fig and many other magnificent works that brighten up the whole station. These art works not only brighten up the station and make the station more comfortable place to travel though, it also brings people to view the works thus gaining more passengers. This reflects back to the work of Frank Pick who started the campaign of posters on the Underground and commissioning artist to design new and modern graphics to get more passengers, the first one being ‘ No need to ask a policeman’ (figure 32) .
Books and articles:
Ayden Forty ( ) Object of my desire, ‘Corporate identity’ p. 222-238.
Bob Bayman, Piers Connor.(1994)Underground Official Handbook, Capital transport.
Flowers (2000) Eduardo Paolozzi Projects 1975-2000, Flowers.
Hugh Collins, (2003) Transport, Engineering and architecture, Laurence King Publishing Ltd.
H.F Howson (1986) London Underground, Ian Allon Ltd.
Ken Garland, (1994) Mr Beck’s Underground Map, Capital Transport Publishing.
London underground limited (2006) Good practice guide managing underground heritage.
London underground limited (2006) Good practice guide, station presentation handbook transport for London.
London underground limited (2006) Good practice guide station ambience & décor.
Powell Ken (2000) The Jubilee Line Extension, London Laurence King.
Tamsin Dillon.(2000)Platform for art Art on the underground, black dog publishing London UK.
Internet and sources;
http://www.diyweek.net/news/news.asp?id=13063 (11, December, 2010)[25 - February – 2010].
Annie Mole, London railway www.blogger.com [07,april,2010].
Freshome (2009) http://freshome.com [accessed 06,March,2010].
Geekgasm, mind the doors http://tropicalmoments.wordpress.com/2009/10/ [7, April,2010].
Martin Armstrong (February 23rd, 2010) Home workshop http://www.homeworkshop.com/2010/02/23/carlisle-train-station-makeover/ [11, December, 2010].
Narcissus Quagliata. http://www.nquagliata.com/ [12, dec, 2010].
Photos by M.Rohde Metro art and Architecturehttp://mic-ro.com/metro/metroart.html#rating [assessed 14,April,2010.
Transport for London ‘History’ http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/modesoftransport/londonunderground/1604.aspx.[13, October, 2010].
Wikipedia the free encyclopaedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_London_Underground Timeline of the London Underground, [07, November, 2010].
Bayman, Connor, Michael Praed (1994). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0874126/http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=london+underground++modern+marvels&aq=f Modern Marvals. London Underground [10, December, 2010].
Harvest history, History of the London underground parts1 to 4,[ accessed 5, October, 2010].
London Transport Museum, Convent Garden, 25,oct,2010)
For image references just as.