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Big names call for rethink on Jubilee Line listing refusals

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A group of architects, writers and historians has called on the government to rethink its refusal to list Tube stations on the Jubilee Line extension

The group, including architects responsible for designing stations at North Greenwich, Westminster, Bermondsey and Stratford, says the Jubilee Line extension was ‘one of the best examples of public sector patronage of our time’ and urged the government to reconsider its refusal last month to grant heritage protection to stations on the line.

In July, The Twentieth Century Society failed in its attempt to get Foster + Partners’ North Greenwich interchange listed. The government also rejected a listing bid for the ticket hall at MJP Architects’ 1999 Southwark Underground Station, which is threatened by early-stage plans by U+I and architect AHMMs featuring a tower of up to 30 storeys. 

In a letter to The Times, the campaigners called on Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Culture, to rethink the Southwark decision and ‘assess the group value’ of all the stations on the Jubilee Line extension stations, which are mainly in south and east London.

The group wrote: ‘As architectural writers who welcomed the new stations when they opened and as architects of the stations themselves, we call on Bradley, the culture secretary, to carry out a survey of the Jubilee Line, assessing which of the recent stations should be preserved and celebrated as architectural masterpieces for future generations to enjoy.’

The authors include Will Alsop, architect behind North Greenwich station, Michael and Patty Hopkins (Westminster), Ian Ritchie (Bermondsey), along with Chris Wilkinson and Jim Eyre (Stratford).

The letter called the new stations on the Jubliee Line ‘the biggest architectural sensation of their kind since the Moscow Underground’.

It said: ‘The 11 new stations were commissioned by Roland Paoletti soon after he completed the impressive new Metro in Hong Kong.

‘He chose a group of talented architects both established and at the beginning of their careers. It was one of the best examples of public sector patronage of our time.’

Marcus Binney, executive president of campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage, also signed the letter.

Speaking separately, he said: ‘It is alarming when fine buildings come under threat so soon after they were completed.

‘As Richard MacCormac (formerly at MJP Architects) is sadly no longer with us to speak for his station (Southwark), it is doubly important that the rest of us make a stand to save it.’

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE said: ‘Southwark Station was built less than 20 years ago – demolition and redevelopment of large parts of it would not only be a tragic loss of fantastic modern architecture, it would also be a colossal waste of resources.’

Open letter from Jeremy Estop, managing director, MJP following the listing refusal for Southwark Tube

It is disappointing to read of the plans to change the ticket hall at Southwark Station. Details of the proposed development are not yet available and we do not know the extent of demolition that may be proposed or what form the replacement ticket hall may take. However, I would make the following observations:

The chain of new stations on the Jubilee Line extension was an extraordinary achievement. It was a massive challenge, both technically and architecturally, to create complex new public buildings of this quality. They set a benchmark for tube station design far higher than any other post-war examples.

At Southwark Station, the ticket hall is an integral part of a spatial journey through the station, from the street to the platforms. The architectural quality of the station is as much about this sequence of spaces as it is about the detail.

Cities will always be changing, but there are plenty of examples of new developments which incorporate and preserve the integrity of existing buildings. Otherwise we end up with incoherent buildings and urban development.

Our design was for an 11-storey building over the station, and the existing foundations are designed for this. At 30 storeys, new foundations are clearly required and getting in the piling rig can be the only real reason for demolition of the ticket hall. However, a new ticket hall will need to be built, and there is no reason why the simple circular form and detailing of the original ticket hall could not be rebuilt within the new building, even if it needs to be at grade and if ‘back of house’ areas need to be reconfigured. The spans between columns could be short and not structurally challenging.

Rebuilding the ticket hall to match the existing design wouldn’t be an unreasonable planning condition

This would be sufficient to preserve the sequence of spaces as originally conceived, without imposing unreasonable constraints on the 30-storey building above. For a building which has been recognised for its high architectural quality, rebuilding the ticket hall to match the existing design would not be an unreasonable planning condition, even if not listed.

Mjp southwark underground ticket hall

Mjp southwark underground ticket hall

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Unfortunately, it's already clear from the Secretary of State for Culture Karen Bradley's attitude to the notion of listing Durham University's Students Union that quality of design doesn't count for much in the grand scheme of things, as far as she's concerned.

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