Studio Egret West reveals designs for future London Underground stations


Studio Egret West has unveiled a "revolutionary new design vision" for London Underground stations of the future (+ slideshow).

The design manifesto developed by the London studio prescribes design details "from pavement to platform", including more eye-catching tube station entrances, subdued lighting and blue tiling.

London Underground by Studio Egret West

Developed with Transport for London (TfL), the Station Design Idiom offers guidelines for repairs of existing stations, as well as large-scale new builds. The aim is to create a 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.

London Underground by Studio Egret West

But TfL said there has been a "lack of confidence" in the Underground's brand identity since the end of world war two, and these new plans are an attempt to change that.

"Not since the days of Frank Pick has there been such an opportunity to holistically rethink the network's design approach," said David West of Studio Egret West. "We are delighted to be involved in the London Underground Station Design Idiom project at such a pivotal point in the network's evolution and to receive recognition for it already."

London Underground by Studio Egret West

The corporate blue from the roundel signage features heavily in the new designs, alongside bronze and grey finishes. This so-called 2015 palette will be applied to new stations and used to update older stations in need of repair, using the contrasting colours to help improve navigation and appearance.

Platforms will feature darker grey ceilings, to conceal dirt and wires, while trackside cabling will be covered with removable cladding.

London Underground by Studio Egret West

One visual shows a loop of blue tiling that accentuates the circumference of the tube tunnel, while in another the same coloured ceramics line a passageway between platforms.

Previous renovations and cumulative patch repairs had been "insensitive or blind" to the overall station design and had caused a "decline" in quality, said TfL.

"Successive initiatives have compromised [the Underground's traditional brand identity] under the guise of 'progress' and 'freshness'," it continued. "We aim to reclaim and improve this legacy."

London Underground by Studio Egret West

The strategy calls for heritage features to be preserved where they exist and for new artworks to be integrated.

"This Design Idiom is about ensuring we put great design at the heart of what we do for now and the future," said London Underground's strategy director Gareth Powell.

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.

London Underground by Studio Egret West
Studio Egret West's concept sketch for future London Underground stations

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.

  • Gary Grant

    Need to allow for interior planting (to improve air quality and ease the pain).

  • Jenga Cat

    Improvements to the navigation/signage around stations would be welcomed. Looking at you, Bank.

  • Richard W

    It’s spelt PriestmanGoode not Preistmangoode.

  • rrrrich

    Yeah, they’ve really got to the bottom of the problems with the Underground. It needs more…purple.

  • Roberto Sideris

    Although it seems as if it will reinvigorate the tube, the colour scheme’s over use of blue and copper will age quickly. Other colours from the TfL logo, such as red and white, should be used to break up the massive expanse of blue. The replacement of yellow with red (as a more warning colour) would also be appropriate for the yellow line running along platform sections and tie in with the TfL red circle.

    The use of grey predominantly across station spaces reminds me of Athens’ underground, but luckily it’s interspersed with copper and other colours so it doesn’t look so heavy.

  • Louis D

    Anything is an improvement on Hawkins Brown’s terrible Tottenham Court Road station upgrade. Probably the blandest and mediocre design I’ve seen in years. Please start with that station and then insure all Cross Rail stations look this good. :)

  • Matthew

    They appear to have forgotten about platform-edge doors, which surely most stations will be fitted with going forward.

  • Ken Johnson

    I wonder what fee Egret has been paid for suggesting to Transport for London that they paint its stations blue. Do they actually imagine that the genius graphic artist Frank Pick worked for Transport for London? I think TfL deserves a writer with a better grasp of history, so here we go.

    Regarding replacing the Circle Line by a passenger conveyor, this solution really dates from ‘The Time Machine’ by H G Wells (1895), and a better design of passenger conveyor for long distances with intermediate stops is ‘The Speed-away Integrator’ by Bouladon in the late ’60s – not the design shown, which is suitable for distances of a few yards (or metres, as we have to call them these days) and, as drawn, does not give the passengers a handrail to grab hold of.

    To NBBJ: driverless trains have not been a success in London. Driverless trains were introduced on the Victoria Line in 1968, having previously been tested on the Central Line from Woodford to Hainault. Note this date precedes the invention of the micro-chip: everything was done with the physics and electronics of the day, and the trains worked perfectly. Driverless trains also ran on the Docklands Light railway when it opened in 1990. Today they have gone. Trains from Woodford, on the Victoria Line and on the DLR have drivers.

    Finally, I’m not much impressed by the pretentious station name Idiom Park, but if you were to re-name the station Idiot Park, I can think of several people who might use it.

  • Luis Cabas

    Wouldn’t it be better to put sliding doors between the train and the platform rather than changing the colour palette?

  • David Cloux

    Track barriers and accessibility dammit! Surely that is part of your future. Maybe the “design idiom” can manifest through inherent strategic and constructional quality rather than disguising archaic strategy with your “loop of blue tiling that accentuates the circumference of the tube tunnel”. This is NOT progress. Having said that, your design looks nice. I hope that all that brass (is it?) won’t increase fare prices.

  • Even London’s underground is classy.

  • James

    “The aim is to create a uniform appearance across the network.” Is that what’s wanted? The individuality of specific stations is what gives the underground its character and creates identity at each location (or at least each line) across the network.

  • chris

    There is no mention of the Jubilee line, which is odd considering that these stations were a tour de force in underground design. Obviously SEW were inspired by this and not so much Holden, apart from everything ’round’. I cannot say any of the designs push anything much further forward apart from a change in material and some nice lighting. Groundbreaking.