The Jubilee Line extension is one of the greatest acts of British architectural patronage of recent years, comprising eleven new stations by as many architects. Canary Wharf Station is by far the largest − when the development of the area is complete, it will be used by more people at peak times than Oxford Circus, currently London's busiest Underground destination.
The 300-metre-long station is built within the hollow of the former West India Dock using cut-and-cover construction techniques. At ground level, the station roof is laid out as a landscaped park, creating Canary Wharf's principal recreation space. The only visible station elements are the arcing glass canopies that cover its three entrances and draw daylight deep into the concourse.
By concentrating natural light dramatically at these points, orientation is enhanced, minimising the need for directional signage. Twenty banks of escalators move passengers in and out of the station, while administrative offices, kiosks and other amenities are sited along the flanks of the ticket hall, leaving the main concourse free and creating a sense of clarity and calm.
Due to the high volume of station traffic, the guiding principles in the design were durability and ease of maintenance. The result is a simple palette of hard-wearing materials: fair-faced concrete, stainless steel and glass. This robust aesthetic is most pronounced at platform level where the concrete tunnel walls are left exposed.
In contrast to the simplicity of its materials, the station introduces many complex security and technological innovations: glazed lifts enhance passenger comfort and deter vandalism; access to the tracks is blocked by platform-edge screens, which open in alignment with the doors of the trains. Servicing is also enhanced, with access via maintenance gangways that allow the station to be maintained entirely from behind the scenes.
“When we first began to work on the station, Canary Wharf was only just beginning to take off as a business destination. We had to try to imagine what its needs would be in ten or twenty years’ time.”Norman Foster
“At Canary Wharf, passengers headed to the new extension of London Underground’s Jubilee Line step onto a bank of escalators under the graceful curve of a glass-panel canopy. As they glide down to the ticketing level, a space of Basilican scale and calm opens up before them.”James S Russell, Architectural record, March 2000
“Stepping into canary wharf is an almost religious experience. At 300 metres long the tower it shares its name with could be laid flat inside with room to spare. The ceiling hangs 30 metres above you, sweeping sinuously down to meet seven towering ellipsoid column, running up the central length of the sunken structure. In the middle and at either end, are half-egg-shaped glass domes, which allow light to pour in, and a great parade of escalators appears to reach the sky. It’s like a cross between Canterbury cathedral and the set of Aliens.”The Observer, 7 November 1999
Construction start: 1995
Area: 31 500 m²
Client: Jubilee Line Extension Project
Structural Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners
Quantity Surveyor: Davis Langdon & Everest
M+E Engineer: JLEP
Landscape Architect: Land Use Consultants
Lighting Engineer: Claude Engle
Additional Consultants: Posford Duvivier / De Leau, Claude Engle, Land Use Consultants
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