The new Paddington station serves the new Elizabeth line railway (formerly known as Crossrail) which increases capacity at this major London interchange and across the network by 200m passengers a year. The Ramboll team played an integral role in the design and delivery of the entrance canopy, façades, cladding, conservation and public realm, working extensively with stakeholders to overcome the highly complex challenges of this landmark station.
Meeting London’s 21st Century transport needs
The Elizabeth line that opened in May 2022 transforms travel across London. It connects Reading and Heathrow in the west with Shenfield in Essex and Abbey Wood to the south east of London. The project has been the largest infrastructure project in Europe, with Paddington station, being the “jewel in the crown” as described by Crossrail Head of Architecture, Julian Robinson.
Appended to Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s original 1854 terminus at Paddington, the new station is one of 10 new stations.
A unique station in a historic context
With a plethora of historic buildings and underground infrastructure, the project was hugely complex. Brunel’s Paddington station is a Grade 1 listed building requiring sensitivity on all works around to the original structure, along with careful management of stakeholder’s requirements and design interfaces. Managing these historic complexities required sensitivity and, working closely with WSP and Weston Williamson + Partners architects as part of the Costain-Skanska Design & Build (CSJV) team, we married the new station with the surrounding area.
The station entrance, canopy and facades
The stunning 120m long glazed station entrance canopy is arguably the highlight of this station, incorporating the Spencer Finch art installation, ‘Cloud Index’. With the installation creating a picture of the sky that changes according to the light, the position of the sun and the time of day, the canopy allows natural light to flood the station down to the open platform level. The size of the canopy, exacting client specifications and the sensitive interface with the Grade 1 listed station, all required careful detailing, construction sequencing and coordination with architecture, electrical services and drainage. Ramboll developed the structural detailed design brief with CSJV and Crossrail and took a leading role in the RIBA Stage E detailed design process, helping to achieve the client vision of a crisp structural form.
The station incorporates high quality cladding finishes throughout, using multiple materials including aluminium, bronze, stone, glass, brick-slip and glass fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC). Ramboll facades team developed design intents for the various cladding support systems to meet the challenging site-specific loading and interface requirements and enable the appointed cladding specialist sub-contractors to understand the constraints and complete the detailed designs.
Charmian Tam, Ramboll, Façade Engineering Technical Lead commented “It’s exciting to think millions of people will walk through the airy, golden main hall and steely grey platforms. Most people will travel into the underground hall, maybe only noting the comforting warmth of the bronze and glow of the brick-slip accentuated by the light filtering through the glazed canopy. But I and the rest of the design team I am sure, will proudly walk through with different eyes, understanding the considerate and resilient security engineering that is hidden behind every single piece of cladding”.
Urban and Public realm
Careful management of relationships with Westminster City Council (WCC), facilitating key discussions with Network Rail (NR), Transport for London (TfL) and local stakeholders enabled a former bus terminal and taxi rank to be incorporated into a two-phased design of the urban and public realm areas.
As part of the work on the detailed design of the highways and drainage of the 500m long urban realm scheme for WCC, the team coordinated the drainage, services and foundations, with all existing underground structures and services, ensuring that heritage features were protected, helping to secure planning approvals from Historic England and ensuring the overall urban area looked and performed as desired.
The site was designed with positive drainage systems, which provide storm water attenuation to accommodate a 1:100-year storm (plus 30% allowance for the future effects of climate change).
Conservation engineering and modelling helped restore historic assets.
Two distinct designs of railings at the station include the original 1854 magnificent west railings with octagonal posts fixed to a semi-circular cast iron kerb and the later,1880, east railings with square posts fixed into a granite coping. Both were carefully dismantled and stored prior to conservation, repair and then reinstallation.
Ramboll’s Conservation Director, Jackie Heath shares the collaboration needed to incorporate the historically important assets “We engaged in extensive dialogue with many disciplines including services, landscape and facades as there were far more constraints in the new layout than for the original railing location. We painstakingly designed each and every plate, bolt, shoe, weld and bracket in stainless steel to ensure all the new fixings were hidden so nothing detracted from the original design, and everything would be durable and maintainable. The railings take a prominent position in the new scheme, proudly standing against the backdrop of the new canopy”.
Our 3D shared modelling capability was critical to incorporating the design elements within a constrained and complex area, scattered with existing sub-structures, hydraulic and static bollards, benches and other urban realm furniture. These features wind around the main station public entrance and two large vent shaft head houses at either end of the site. Progressing the client’s scheme design through to final urban realm design, we accommodated stakeholders’ requirements and incorporated updates to the design as final details of buried historic structures were uncovered.
Paddington station opened in May 2022 providing a much enhanced travelling experience, with a bright open station and vast glass canopy, allowing natural mood light to flood in. The surrounding area benefits from a new expanse of public realm space allowing safe, easy access to and from the station. The success of this new station is the result of extensive collaboration between Crossrail, NR, WCC, TfL, Costain-Skanska, WSP, Weston Williamson + Partners Architects, numerous specialist sub-contractors and Ramboll’s experienced multi-disciplinary engineering team.