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Weston Williamson and William Matthews’ ‘sugar cube’ gets go-ahead

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Camden Council has given planning approval for the first major structure to be built at Euston station as part of HS2

The new London Underground vent shaft and substation, designed by architects Weston Williamson + Partners with William Matthews Associates, will be a four-storey white cube, covered with more than 13,000 ivory-white glazed terracotta tiles.  

It will be built in Stephenson Way on the site of Wolfson House, an eight-storey 1960s office block originally built for University College London’s science department, which is currently being demolished. 

This work, which is due to finish at the end of the year, is expected to include the removal of 2,300 tonnes of concrete and 200 tonnes of steel. The early stages of the project saw the removal of 21 tonnes of asbestos.  

The new building will house a substation and electrical equipment as well as a vent shaft for the Northern line, allowing the old vent shaft to be removed to make way for new platforms for the high-speed rail service. It will be as big below ground as it is above, with tunnels linking it to the Northern line.

The design’s use of tiles is a nod to those featured in many Tube stations, including South Kensington and Covent Garden. A pattern of perforated tiles will allow air into the structure and variate the façade, leading it to be dubbed the ‘sugar cube’. 

Chris Williamson, founding partner of Weston Williamson + Partners, said: ‘The Euston vent shaft is an important and vital piece of urban infrastructure which facilitates a comfortable environment for all users. It has been a close collaborative design process and the result builds on the best of Britain’s infrastructure heritage, with the use of materials and expression of functional requirements.’ 

Rob Carr, HS2’s London programme director, said: ‘The new vent shaft and substation will be one of the first things we build and it’s important we get it right. I’m pleased that Camden has given us the green light and i hope this intriguing, functional and contemporary design will be welcomed by all those who live, work and travel through Euston.’

Camden council approved the plans for the vent shaft subject to an agreement on suitable lighting.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • In a civilised world it would be good if Camden could see their way to making further HS2 approvals for the station work conditional on the re-creation of the Euston Arch.
    This really would be 'welcomed by all those who live, work and travel through Euston' - and a correct a great wrong.

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