Case Study

The Jubilee Line extension, London, England, UK: an underground rail link as a catalyst for urban revitalization (c. 1974-2000)

The Jubilee Line in London was built both to enhance accessibility to existing areas of London and to spur new development. Like most infrastructure projects, the line had a precedent that it both followed and from which it departed. It sought the environmental quality of Singapore, the efficiency of the Hong Kong Mass Transit Rail (MTR) system and both of those systems' extensive new property development adjacent to each station but with a greater architectural flair in its design. The link between Hong Kong and London is not surprising because the Chairman of London Transport at the time, Sir Wilfred Newton, and the chief architect whom he brought on board,

Roland Paoletti, were both involved in the planning and designing of the MTR system in Hong Kong. Like most such developments, the extension of the Jubilee Line was long in gestation and its conception difficult to date. First talk of it was in 1949 but no action followed.

By the early 1970s, the London Docklands, as noted in the description of Canary Wharf, had become abandoned and the London docks shifted down the River Thames to Tilbury. Much of East London was undergoing substantial population change accompanied by the degeneration of its physical fabric. Plans for extending the London transit network into the area had long been considered but neither political nor financial support was sufficient for it to be furthered. The situation started to change with the formation of the London Docklands Joint Committee of the five Boroughs into which the area fell and a parallel decision made in 1978 to build an underground line to the east from Central London.

The new line would extend the existing Jubilee Line (completed in 1977) that ran from Charing Cross to Stanmore in London's northwestern suburbs. A change of government, however, shelved the project. In 1981 it established the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) and the need for a transportation link to the Docklands became urgent. Lack of funding for a heavy-rail system led to the building of a light-rail line to the Docklands from the City. It has a capacity of 27,000 passengers a day and was completed in 1987.

The system was rendered inadequate by the Olympia and York's proposal for Canary Wharf (see Chapter 8). It projected a working population of 50,000 people at Canary Wharf with a substantial number of other visitors to the site each day. To operate well as a location for commerce and prevent traffic chaos Canary Wharf needed access via a major mass transportation connection. The proposal for the Jubilee Line was supported politically by the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who promised to get the project funded. Olympia and York chipped in £400 million ($US1 billion) towards the cost of this infrastructure item. Government support was, however, very slow in coming and came too late to encourage companies to move to Canary Wharf and thus to save Olympia and York from bankruptcy. It was not until 1996 that ground was broken for the scheme. The extension of the Jubilee Line links two main railway stations (Waterloo and London Bridge) with existing centres in East London (see Figure 10.15) that were and still are in various degrees of squalor and gentrification. It also gives access to other urban regeneration projects (such as the Tate Modern art gallery designed by Herzog and de Meuron near Southwark station).

Paoletti and his team of architects completed the design of the line in 18 months. It is comprised of 12.2 kilometres of twin tunnels and a dozen stations (six completely new). The tunnels are relatively deep (from 15 to 20 metres) because they run under existing buildings and also under the River Thames (four times). Constructing it was a major engineering task because the new stations and line had to be plugged into the tunnels and concourses of existing stations. It costs £3.5 billion (US$8 billion). The line was sufficiently complete to be opened in late 1999 although work on it continues. Its programmed opening date of 1998 was highly optimistic as was its predicted budget (£2.5 billion).

The design goal was to create an efficient system with good platform-to-ground connections, good links to other modes of transport (including other underground lines and the light-rail system). The stations would be architecturally distinctive. A different architectural team, most of them with hightech aesthetic and engineering backgrounds, designed each station except a team under Paoletti that designed the stations at Waterloo and Canada Wharf. No strict design guidelines for unifying the architecture of the different stations were established. Some details that serve a visually unifying purpose were, however, specified: the floors of the concourses, the nature of the escalators, the glass doors and the signage.

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Figure 10.15 The Jubilee Line extension. (a) The route and (b) the intersection of lines at Westminster station.

Figure 10.15 The Jubilee Line extension. (a) The route and (b) the intersection of lines at Westminster station.

The decision to have a diversity of designers follows a precedent set in London during the 1930s and, more recently, in a diverse set ofplaces - Genoa, Singapore and Rotterdam. The designs are 'hard-edged' and primarily related to global aesthetic trends rather than local traditions. The designs of the stations were first publicly exhibited in 1992 and were well received by design professionals, the press and the lay-public alike.

From an urban design point of view what has been important are the stations, their

Source: Wordsearch and the Royal Academy of Art (2001); courtesy of Foster and Partners, Architects

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Source: Wordsearch and the Royal Academy of Art (2001); courtesy of Foster and Partners, Architects

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Figure 10.16 Canary Wharf Station. (a) A longitudinal section through the Canary Wharf station and (b) a view of the underground concourse.

Figure 10.16 Canary Wharf Station. (a) A longitudinal section through the Canary Wharf station and (b) a view of the underground concourse.

links to and their catalytic effect on their surroundings. The stations are varied in nature not just because of their aesthetics but the way they relate to the ground level, to other modes of transportation and the way their surroundings have been handled. The lessons from Singapore and Hong Kong were well learnt. The largest of the stations is at Canary Wharf. It is 314 metres (1030 feet) in length (see Figure 10.16). Built through a cut-and-cover approach, it has a 'cathedral-like' internal space. The station plugs into the Canary Wharf development with the Canary Wharf towers being directly linked into it.

There are urban design projects at other stations such as Newham, North Greenwich and Southwark, and the second phase of development at Canary Wharf was due to get underway at the time of writing. These projects have, however, come largely as an afterthought and not in conjunction with the design of the line. The hope is that the developments at and around the stations by high-profile architects such as John McAslan, Chris Wilkerson, Norman Foster and Eva Jiricna will spur growth but be in tune with their surroundings. At West Ham, for instance, the paved square in front of the station is related to the residential scale of the area (see Figure 10.17).

The catalytic effect of the investment in the public realm is yet to be seen. The

station at North Greenwich was located at a highly derelict location but it enabled the ill-fated Millennium Dome to be built and the festival to be held. Perhaps, Stratford has the greatest potential because of its connection to the new international station on the Channel tunnel and rail link. The multiplier effect of the investment in the line will depend on the state of the economy more than the state of the architecture. Time will tell. The line does bind parts of London long neglected into the whole. The urban and architectural image is very important in an era of the globalization of marketing. It establishes an air of up-to-dateness.

Major references

Pachini, Luca (2000). The Jubilee Line extension project. Casabella 64 (678): 64-83. Powell, Kenneth (1999). The Jubilee Line Extension.

London: Lawrence King Publishing. Russell, James S. (2000). Engineering civility: transit stations. Architectural Record 188 (3): 129-33. Wordsearch and the Royal Academy of Arts (2001). New Connections, New Architecture, New Urban Environments and the London Jubilee Line Extension. London: Royal Academy of the Arts.

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