News 24.05.2022

Gillespies delivers four urban realms for the newly opened Elizabeth Line

Today (Tuesday, May 24) marks the much-anticipated opening of the £20bn Elizabeth line by TfL and Crossrail. The new line, which will revolutionise travel across London and the Southeast, is expected to serve around 200 million people, cutting journey times between key underground stations, like Paddington and Canary Wharf.

Crossrail Ltd has placed great importance in the quality of the public realm around each of their stations as well as the stations themselves as a means to improve the pedestrian experience and provide a catalyst for urban renewal.

Gillespies is proud to have delivered urban realm strategies for four of the ten new Crossrail Stations within the central portion of the line, namely Paddington, Woolwich, Canary Wharf and Tottenham Court Road Stations. These interchanges will deliver uplifting spaces that will support the increased capacity, improve passenger safety and journeys, and strengthen each station and areas international reputation.

Below is an overview of our four projects for Crossrail:

The Crossrail Place Roof Garden in Canary Wharf was the first new building to open as part of Crossrail. Located above the new Canary Wharf Crossrail Station, the garden is a celebration of the dockland's maritime heritage, showcasing unusual plants from across the globe encased beneath an intricate lattice roof designed by Foster and Partners. Crossrail Place sits almost exactly on the Prime Meridian Line and the planting is arranged according to which hemisphere they are from with Asian plants such as bamboos to the east, and plants such as ferns from the Americas to the west.

The garden provides a unique space for where visitors can admire the exotic plants, relax on benches nestled in hidden pathways or enjoy a show in the 80-seater amphitheatre.

Gillespies designed the garden with specialist planting support from Growth Industry.

The practice also delivered Adam’s Place, a public space connecting the new station both at dock and ground level. The design of this square – lined with linear brick planters – responds to its position as a physical link between the new Crossrail Station and the business and retail facilities within Crossrail Place. The design of Adams Place explores the idea of a lightweight deck that almost appears to float in the dock. The place is treated like a pontoon taking you from Canary Wharf to the Crossrail vessel.

The arrival of Paddington Crossrail station presented an ideal opportunity to resolve external public realm issues surrounding the grade-listed Paddington station. Working alongside Weston Williamson + Partners and in close consultation with Westminster City Council (WCC) and English Heritage (EH), Gillespies has transformed what was once a heavily traffic dominated, sunken and oppressive arrival space into an exemplarily inclusive, accessible and uplifting world-class interchange.

A generous new piazza in front of the station has resolved many of the challenges that have plagued passengers for years, providing breathing space in a once cluttered streetscape for people to linger, dwell and orientate themselves. The overall public realm has a warm, open and public feel, with seating and generous areas of paving, providing convivial places for people to relax. Tree planting has helped establish a more human scale and welcoming environment, providing seasonal interest and stitching the forecourt into its wider context.

Located in the heart of London’s bustling West End, Tottenham Court Road Station has undergone a major transformation as part of the new Elizabeth Line. Gillespies has delivered a new step-free urban plaza at the base of the Centre Point building at St Giles, creating a vibrant public space and accommodating the Crossrail interchange at Tottenham Court Road. Significantly, the designs have established a new diagonal access on the historic alignment of St Giles High Street enroute to Covent Garden.

The arrival of the Elizabeth line in Woolwich has spearheaded a major regeneration of the area and is a key part of a new masterplan on the Royal Arsenal site by Berkeley Group, which is now home to thousands of new homes, shops and public spaces. Gillespies delivered a concept urban realm masterplan for Woolwich Crossrail Station, delivering proposals for a new gateway green space firmly embedded into the existing Royal Arsenal, and integrating the new Elizabeth line station within the wider Woolwich Town Centre context.

The station entrance opens out onto Dial Arch Square, a green space, flanked with a series of Grade I and II listed buildings. An inviting and spacious space for pedestrians has been established along the generous station forecourt running the length of the eastern side of the square.

The urban realm was delivered by Atkins.