The Elizabeth line: line-wide design   London, UK

The Elizabeth line is the most significant contribution to London’s transportation in over 20 years. Officially opened in May 2022, after 12 years in design, construction and delivery, the new line is now part of the London Underground network, running 100km east to west across the city through 42km of new tunnels.

Carrying an estimated 200 million passengers per year, increasing the capacity of central London’s underground railway network by 10%, the Elizabeth line connects London from Reading and Heathrow to Shenfield and Abbey Wood, and reduces commuter travel to these areas by up to 30 minutes.

Commonality is central to the line-wide design for the Elizabeth line, creating an effortless travel environment that is intuitive, safe, accessible, and enjoyable. The line-wide consortium of Atkins, Grimshaw, GIA Equation and Maynard, interfacing with different design teams across the 10 central stations, played a unique role: developing a line-wide strategy that conceptually and functionally binds together the distinct stations along the network.

Commonality is central to the line-wide design for the Elizabeth line, creating a seemingly effortless travel environment that is intuitive, safe, accessible, and enjoyable.

Through an intensive and collaborative process, the team conceptualised an approach whereby individual stations respond with their own architecture to their individual contexts, while as passengers descend to platform level the manifestation of a line-wide identity strengthens through the application of consistent cladding, lighting, signage, furniture, and platform edge screens.

From curved glass-reinforced concrete cladding, to integrated technology and lighting within wayfinding totems, the line-wide design creates a consistent journey across the city, and ultimately, a new travel identity for London’s underground railway infrastructure.

Encompassing platform architecture, passenger tunnels, escalators, station concourses, signage, furniture, fittings, finishes and technology elements, the line-wide design design consists of two distinct languages: long-life architectural elements such as the tunnel cladding and flooring, and shorter life technology elements that service the station environments, housed in the platform edge screens and totems.

The consistent line-wide components enabled an economy of scale and the use of modern manufacturing, while their robust, self-finished materials ensure longevity. The separation of technology elements allows flexibility for the stations to evolve, ease of maintenance, and provides an uncluttered canvas for passengers.

Location
London, UK

Project Type
Rail and Mass Transit →

Client
Crossrail

Status
Complete

Year
2022