Paddington Elizabeth Line Station / Weston Williamson + Partners
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Manufacturers : Byrne Bros, Lindner, SAS International, Thorpe, Waagner Biro, Wood & Wood
Lead Architect :
Text description provided by the architects. Paddington is familiar to millions of people arriving in London from Heathrow or stations to the west. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Digby Wyatt, Paddington is Grade I listed and an icon of Victorian railway engineering – setting the bar high for its new Elizabeth Line addition. Weston Williamson + Partners’ Elizabeth Line station is the culmination of over ten years’ work by the practice across Paddington station, transforming the passenger experience by radically improving routes to and through the station, and opening up new connections.
Today, Paddington has a highly visible and navigable main entrance for the first time, with the Elizabeth Line entrance extending alongside Eastbourne Terrace beneath a 2,300 sq.m glazed roof incorporating Cloud Atlas – new artwork etched into the canopy by artist Spencer Finch. From a 300-meter-long new public plaza, lifts and escalators take passengers onto the Elizabeth Line station concourse and platforms below, or into the mainline station through a series of new entrance portals. At street level, a pair of ventilation shaft enclosures, clad with tapering cast stone fins, help to frame the station entrance and hint at the grandeur beneath.
As one of only two box stations (alongside Weston Williamson + Partners’ other Elizabeth Line station at Woolwich) the design and delivery of Paddington was a major achievement, requiring extensive deep excavations and complex engineering immediately adjacent to Brunel’s historic station in a busy part of central London. The result is as impressive as its construction and, descending to the concourse, the epic scale of the new Elizabeth Line station is revealed.
Paddington is epic in scale, yet calm and legible. Its 90-meter clear opening – a unique feature for urban underground station design – harnesses space, scale, and light to match the grandeur of Brunel’s original station, and creates an uplifting and carefully-detailed space intended to claim its own legacy. Its robust engineering is celebrated – for instance in gigantic flared elliptical columns, clad in bronze to head height, which carry the structure above. There are careful details too – such as anodized ‘lily pad’ light fittings set within saucer-like concrete ceiling coffers above the grand ticket hall. Services are cleverly tucked away out of sight, and ample provision has been made for future adaptations.
Unlike other stations along the central section which feature a common design language, at Paddington (and also Woolwich) Weston Williamson + Partners was tasked with all station design from street to platform level. They have used their expertise as infrastructure specialists to create a high-quality, calm and legible station, designed to last for generations.
The passenger experience lies at the heart of Weston Williamson + Partners’ approach to all design decisions at Paddington. Despite its size the station is nevertheless welcoming and easily navigable – qualities that the practice had applied earlier when addressing the shortcomings of the adjacent mainline station. As a result, Paddington’s 19th and 21st-century elements are brought seamlessly together for the benefit of station users, and properly established Paddington as a key gateway to London.