Guardian critic Rowan Moore on London’s next underground colossus | News


The new station on the Farringdon Elizabeth line is designed by Scott Wilson, Aedas and Burns & Nice. Image courtesy of Tom Page via OpenStreetMap.

This engineering megalopolis currently sits there, pristine, unblemished by gum and pigeons, with its 319-ton trains quietly gliding every few minutes, empty, so those operating the system can familiarize themselves with the choreography. of all that heavy metal. Electronic signposts announce their arrival with white numbers, a notch classier than the oranges on the old tube.– The Guardian

Moore described the near-empty £18.33 billion ($23.84 billion) project as an “alternate universe” before comparing the transition between the new Elizabeth Line and the old Central Underground to a scene from ( attempt at architectural criticism) Lewis Caroll. Alice in Wonderland.

The full line is expected to be completed by 2023. Hopes were that the originally planned construction would finish in 2018, before being pushed back three times due to the pandemic and various other causes. The expansion will eventually feature a motley slate of new stations from HawkinsBrown and other big companies, but Moore doesn’t expect the huge feat to be repeated anytime soon, given the rise of some technologies. ascending in the role of the city. Planning.

“It can take a generation, in other words, for something like this to happen. Given that we are in a climate emergency, whatever environmental benefits may come from such extra public transport splurges – which incur upfront carbon and energy costs when they are built – may now come too late. Some mobility gurus claim that driverless electric cars, by efficiently using road space and removing the environmental problems of gasoline and diesel, will eventually push urban railroads toward obsolescence.

Bonny J. Streater