South Kensington underground station, located within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, is a significant heritage asset. The station is one of the busiest on TfL’s network, acting as a gateway to a world-famous cultural quarter and popular tourist destinations.
We were appointed by TfL to work with them and multiple stakeholders to design a scheme that increases capacity, improves accessibility, passenger distribution and wayfinding; that addresses the shortcomings of all the rejected schemes that went before it and that would be approved by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and key stakeholders.
The design will be delivered as part of a holistic three-phase capacity upgrade programme that, once complete, will provide increased capacity and step-free access throughout the station.
Phase 1 includes the ticket hall extension, a dedicated District and Circle line eastbound platform, an associated canopy and an escape stairs. The ticket hall extension with repositioned gate-line, through-lifts, a designated waiting area and new platform stairs will significantly improve capacity, passenger distribution and wayfinding.
The historic, listed John Fowler revetment wall forms the spine of the ticket hall extension; a large linear skylight separates it from the new extension, introducing natural daylight, which both enhances the passenger environment and showcases the wall.
At platform level the canopy is pulled back along its length to visually separate, preserve and celebrate the revetment wall and allow it to ‘breathe’.
Skylights strategically positioned along the length of the modular canopy and aligned to designated seating and landscape planting bays reduce the mass of the canopy and enhance the passenger environment at platform level.
Approval followed an extensive consultation programme, with the design gaining the support of key stakeholders including local residents, consultative working groups and London Underground.
This is a fantastic milestone for those involved, considering that no consent has been granted for major works at this station since it was listed in 2004. It’s also a strong reflection on the quality of the work and input you have had on the design, engagement with the community and collaborative approach you took with TfL.
WestonWilliamson+Partners designs for the Phase 1 scheme make a considerable contribution to improving circulation, capacity, wayfinding and enhancing the user experience in the station. The designs are sympathetic to the heritage significance of the station, with sight lines and scale that restore a sense of the grandeur of the original station, without pastiche.
Facing the exceptional challenge of delivering a design for a listed station with complex requirements, all within a compressed three-month programme, it might be easy to imagine sustainability not being a project priority. We made sure that this wasn’t the case. From working sensitively with the existing station heritage to minimise demolition requirements, to carefully selecting a robust and hard-wearing palette of materials which guarantee a long design life, we embedded a sustainable agenda into every design decision.
Our ability to identify opportunities to integrate environmentally friendly design principles was most noticeable within the proposed sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS), which removes water from the new canopy into a series of delicately planted areas which sit within the existing revetment arches. Through these key design decisions, we delivered a green and resilient vision for the station.