London Transport Museum’s Late Debate: Designing the Tube
London Bridge Station is the fourth busiest rail station in the country, connecting London to the South East. A five-year redevelopment will not only allow for a 60 percent increase in demand but also change fundamentally how the station works.
When it fully reopens in 2018, the station will have more through platforms and fewer terminating, making travel from the South East into the centre of London easier than ever. Connections to the local area and the underground will be improved too, consolidating the station’s function as the transport hub in London’s south east corner.
The new concourse will be bigger than Wembley Stadium, and will be able to accommodate 80 million people a year.
The design team for the redevelopment is a collaboration between Hyder, WSP, Grimshaw and Maynard. Our job was to design the directional and information system that will interface between people and the new ways in which the station will be used, together with signage that integrates the system in to the impressive new architecture.
In order to understand the requirements properly, we worked closely with Network Rail to understand how the station will be used; how many thousands of people will arrive in the morning and from where; how many will descend on the station in the evening; how many people will be changing trains, and between which platforms. This was a necessary step in defining what information people will need, and at what point on their journey through the station.
We also analysed Network Rail’s existing directional communications and signage system to see how well they would work in a bigger, more complicated station than usual. We looked at type and sign sizes, layout, naming, pictograms, everything to establish how well the signage would work.
In the end we built on the Network Rail signage rules and expanded them to meet the special demands of the new station. This meant a lot of innovation in terms of graphic communication and signage objects, especially around escalators and lifts.
The redeveloped station will have at least twice as many escalators as before, taking people from street level up to the platforms. At the same time, Network Rail have a strict brief to make escalators safer than ever. This raised the need for clear signing to step-free routes that invited, in particular, people with bags and suitcases to use the lifts.
The wayfinding strategy to address this issue involved a combination of elements. Eye-catching lifts, clear route signing between lifts and escalators, and clear instructions at the escalator’s point of entry, all combine to make people with bags aware of the lifts and extend the invitation to use them.