As Londoners we all know the incredible feats of engineering and architecture that went into designing the underground. But how often, while scampering from tube to tube in rush hour do we stop and look at the design of the stations? Will Scott‘s fantastic photo series Architecture of the Underground suggests we should do it a little more. Shooting some of London’s lesser known stations, he shows us just how fabulous and varied our stations really are…
Often the stations of the tube can be like time portals with architecture from a different era, but they can also be brand-spanking new. Will Scott’s photography really brings the stations to life and makes you realise how brilliantly designed they are.
With the HEKKTA team being situated right next to Parsons Green tube stop, we are very familiar indeed with the District Line. But the series takes you to places you have never been before; stations at the other end of London. Many times when we are sat on the tube staring at the network that sprawls across London, we find ourselves thinking – what does Rayners Lane look like? Or what does Burnt Oak have to offer? Well Scott’s photography gives us a great insight! Admittedly just showing a snippet of the area, but nonetheless the series shows us parts of London we don’t get to see too often. Makes you realise despite backing your knowledge of your city, you still know very little of it as a whole!
Scott’s idea for the project came when he made a trip to Arnos Grove a few years ago and was fascinated by the art deco architecture of the station. This made him realise that not only had he not been to many London tube stations (as many of us haven’t), but actually they hadn’t really been documented very well either. Hence this fabulous project!
“Many Londoners don’t really have any appreciation of how incredible a design and engineering feat the underground network is,” he told Dezeen.
“When you’re commuting every day, it’s easy to just think about it as a tool that gets you to and from work.”
Pictured above is Canada Water in East London, which is one of London’s modern stations being built by Buro Happold in 1999.
Scott wanted to capture all variety of London’s stations, from modern to old. To get them at their best, he tried to shoot when the sun was shining using a Canon 5DS camera with a 24-millimetre tilt-shift lens, to capture as much as possible in each shot.
Canary Wharf’s curved glass entrance was designed by architecture big boys Foster + Partners in the same year as Canada Water.
Farringdon, in the heart of London (Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines can be found here), was one of the older stations shot by Scott, first opening in 1863.
The series took Scott to stations on the periphery of the tube map – even Cockfosters (pictured below), which looks drastically different to how we imagined. He focused on many Piccadilly line stops designed by Charles Holden, a Bolton born architect who lived from 1875-1960. One of them being Cockfosters and another being Southgate, which looks closer to New York Grand Central in style and in it’s lighting as well. A very pretty station interior indeed!
“I’m really hoping to show some of the lesser known stations off, as many of them were groundbreaking for their time,” Scott explained.
The photo series also hones in on the design details both inside and outside the stations, such as the typography used for signage and the tiled illustrations applied to platform walls.
“I love the level of detail that went into both the individual stations and the overall network, it was an incredible labour of love,” said Scott.
What we love about this project is not only do you see stations you wouldn’t otherwise get to see, but you see how modern architecture centres at heart of the city with stations like Kings Cross or Canada Water for example, and the stations which boast more historic architecture like that of Southgate lie on the perimeter creating a time-line through architectural progression as you get further into the city.