Southwark Station Glass Wall
Throughout their extension works to the Jubilee line, London Underground embraced the constraints of sub-ground, urban settings, and created a series of award-winning spaces and works of art. The much-lauded Southwark Station Glass Wall was just one of these feats of design, introducing beauty and tranquillity to a deep, narrow corridor.
The collaborative work between architect Richard MacCormac and artist Alexander Beleschenko, features a conical wall surrounding an escalator, 16 m tall and 40 m long and incorporating 496 triangular panes of blue glass. The changes in colour and tone reflect the commuter’s transition from bright sunlight into the darkness below, providing reflections of pale light at a high level, and rich depth of colour at the foot of the escalator.
Conceptually, the idea was straightforward, but in order to make it work we needed to first devise a cutting-edge software programme that would unfurl the cone into a 2D plan of its component triangles. This provided a basis from which the fabricator could work, with a focus on minimising tolerances.
We then returned to analysis of the irregular curve of the wall in order to consider options for structural restraint. We wanted to design standard fixing details to aid the programme and limit cost, but each triangle was structurally bespoke due to its unique position in relation to the wall. The glass also had to withstand suction at varying levels, and triangle thicknesses varied to accommodate this as well as the wall’s disparate loadings.
The structural system behind the glass was a simple steel frame, but we worked to develop custom stainless-steel ‘spider’ fixings, which provided a bridge between steel and glass. Each spider connected six triangles together using prongs that were free to slide and turn, adapting to the different conditions.
Artistic collaboration to create Southwark Station’s stunning curved glass wall
MacCormack Jamieson Prichard
- 2000 RIBA Award
- 2000 Royal Fine Art Commission Trust – Building of the Year
- 2000 Concrete Society Award – Certificate of Excellence