Three winners have been named winners in the contest to overhaul an historic foot tunnel in South Kensington, London
The proposals – The Secret Guide to Albertopolis, Connections and The Complete History of the Universe (see team members’ names below) – were announced at the unveiling of a new exhibition at the Royal College of Art (RCA) today.
Open to students from the RCA, Imperial College and the Royal College of Music, the contest – organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants – sought ideas to ‘improve and animate’ the 550-metre long foot tunnel.
Built in 1885, the grade II-listed subterranean thoroughfare links major cultural institutions, such as the V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum, within London’s historic ‘Albertopolis’ district.
The winning Connection proposal features a series of ‘dramatic and major physical interventions’ intended to create new public spaces and improve access and way finding along the tunnel.
Judges described the project as ‘an impressively professional masterplan’ and were impressed by the way it built on Dixon Jones’ £29million Exhibition Road upgrade nearby.
Fellow winner The Secret Guide to Albertopolis features a new tunnel floor incorporating tiles inspired by the nearby museums and cultural institutions above ground.
A range of temporary structures including a pop-up lecture theatre and event space – which can be concealed within the tunnel’s structure when not in use – will also be included.
The final winner The Complete History of the Universe was inspired by the district’s role in sharing knowledge and the conflict between seeking to understand everything despite the impossibility of actually doing so in the modern age.
The scheme features a giant undulating timeline representing human knowledge and its shortcomings which thins or thickens according to our understanding of the universe around us.
Two further schemes – ‘Golden Runway’ incorporating travelators and ‘Parallel Calm’ focusing on heritage features – were commended.
Judges included Transport for London’s head of art on the Underground, Eleanor Pinfield and Alex de Rijke the dean of the School of Architecture at the RCA.
The three winning schemes will share a £6,000 prize awarded by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 which supported the contest along with the Exhibition Road Cultural Group.
Transport for London is expected to draw on the winning designs as part of its improvement programme for South Kensington station which is connected to the tunnel.
The Secret Guide to Albertopolis
Emma Alisa Aaltonen
Mi Ree Kwon
The Complete History of the Universe
The Golden Runway