In the news recently we were very pleased to see that the newly-redeveloped travel retail hub and train station at London Bridge is one of six buildings nominated for the prestigious 2019 Riba Stirling prize.
The prize – named after the architect James Stirling and awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) – is awarded annually to the architects of the UK’s best new building – designs which the judges believe have made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year. All entrants are RIBA members and others nominated forthe award this year include the Macallan whisky distillery in Moray and theWeston Yorkshire sculpture park.
It is great to see a project so close to home being nominated for such a significant award. As regular blog readers will know, travel retail and design for retail hubs is one of our specialities here at Barber and we really love the total transformation of the retail space at London Bridge. Whilst not as well known as some of London’s other travel hubs, London Bridge is actually the UK’s fourth busiest station – bringing 56 million passengers into the capital each year – and the renovation has made it fit for the 21st century.
The station was officially reopened by HRH The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William) in May last year, following a £1 billion, 5 year rebuild which was completed in phases, so that that the station could remain open throughout the entire construction period. Train tracks were ‘untangled’, platforms were remodelled, moved and added (taking the total to 15) and new signalling was installed. The whole place was completely redesigned to provide more space and better connections to other rail services and tube stations in order to be able to cope with burgeoning passenger numbers. The rebuild has almost doubled the passenger capacity at the station, which is now capable of serving 96 million people a year.
In addition to improving the transport infrastructure, a new street-level concourse was added which enables passengers to access all of the station platforms from one place. The concourse is larger than the pitch atWembley and filled with new shops and cafes – with new entrances and exits providing smoother thoroughfares and better routes to and from the station, wherever a passenger may travelling to.Network Rail have asserted that the station is a shining example of what can be achieved through investment and they are confident that that the opening of 90 new retail units in the space will make the station an interesting place to spend time, like London St Pancras station.
After so much hard work developing the new station so that it is efficient and accessible, it is wonderful to see architects Grimshaws being acknowledged for their efforts. The Stirling Prize jury said its “voluminous” spaces and “impressive” new concourse had “significantly improved the experience of those who use it daily”.
Speaking about the shortlist as a whole, Ben Derbyshire, president of RIBA said that it was testament to”the enviable global reputation of UK architecture.” He said that the nominated buildings “could hardly be more diverse” yet had “ground-breaking innovation, extraordinary creativity and the highest quality materials” in common. Past winners include the gherkin in London and Hastings Pier.
The winner will be announced in October. Good luck London Bridge Station!