In the hands of the right architect, it gets deployed for mathematical as well as sensory effect. It becomes more than something to be accommodated expediently, and instead resembles something to be manipulated skilfully – and daringly.
The gigantic ticket hall at Eastcote is one such an example. The darkness doesn’t cling to the shoulders of people passing in and out, or lurk pointedly in the corners of your eyes. It’s only there if you want it to be there. Yet its presence isn’t an accident. It is part of the design.
Brick, concrete and glass: the holy trinity of 1930s-era London Underground. But it’s modernity, not divinity, that guided the construction of this cunningly beautiful station, both in principle and practice. Light pours in; darkness pours out. The enormous glass panels are dazzling whichever and wherever you look at – and through – them:
The secret to all of this? Height. Look how tall the ticket hall stands. Think how much brightness is deliberately allowed inside. Then consider why it is that so many of the greatest Underground stations reach so far above ground. There’s a sort of inverse proportionality going on here, but I’m stumped if I can express it as an equation.
Well, other than light + dark x Charles Holden = something profoundly illuminating.
I’ll get me ‘Cote.