Tag Archives: Ian Ritchie

Which is more rare: rain in London or a new Underground station?The name Wood Lane has one resonance and one only: as the home of the palace of glittering delights that is BBC Television Centre. I can’t help thinking that, had Wood Lane station been called not after the road on which it stands but the building opposite which it sits, the Beeb would not be in the process of flogging off one of the country’s cultural powerhouses. Imagine having the name Television Centre immortalised on the Underground map: what finer honour could there be? I still think they made a mistake not renaming Stratford as “Stratford Olympia”. Anyway…

Night lightsWood Lane is stunning, either by night or day. It’s another masterclass in contemporary station architecture by Ian Ritchie, whose work at Bermondsey I’ve already praised. Similar themes and concerns crop up here: an emphasis on space and natural light, a sympathetic layout and ambience, and a celebration not of brick and iron but steel, glass and aluminium. The top of the station is especially striking:

Making a pointUnderneath, the station has been given a frankly enormous entrance, which neatly allows you to see exactly where you need to go and what you need to do to get there, even before you put a foot inside. No plunging, unknowingly, into an oddly-lit and counter-intuitively cramped vestibule (Leslie Green, I’m looking at you).

That't some frontYes, those are viaduct arches inside the station. Fantastic, isn’t it?

Wood Lane began operation in 2008: one of the many projects started by Ken Livingstone, but opened and doted upon by Boris Johnson. I think that particular wheeze is pretty much exhausted now, Boris.

When Television Centre closes in 2013, Wood Lane will cease to be a mustering point for small screen stars, staff and audiences. Instead it will be merely a portal to an anonymous shopping centre. But for those who care, and for those who remember, its name will always and forever mean something else: something unique and very magical.

*Con*crete? No! PRO-crete!An especially ghastly phrase to have entered the modern business lexicon – one of many – is “do a deep dive”. “Let’s do a deep dive into these figures,” people say, and expect you to be impressed. Instead you are rankled, because the phrase is meaningless and exists solely to make its speaker feel like they sound professional.

You cannot dive, deep or otherwise, into figures. What you can do is dive into something that exists, and which is tangible. The exceptional Bermondsey station allows you to dive deeply – not literally, mind – into a catacomb of concrete that, thanks to its breathtaking design by Ian Ritchie, never once loses sight of daylight.

Beginning to see the lightInformation about the project’s history on Ritchie’s website, particularly the concept drawings, make clear what was intended from the outset: to bring “a perceptible sensitivity and ambience to the public” by using “natural light and a clear spatial experience”.

He and his team succeeded completely. The impression of enormous, liberating space is fuelled by the sympathetic illumination – and vice versa:

The future is here - and it's concrete!It’s great to be reminded of how awe-inspiring concrete can look when deployed in ways not common to the ordinary high street or suburban road.

And Ritchie seems to want us to dive both physically into the ground but figuratively into our imaginations, to touch on deep associations we have with what might pass for a futuristic world:

Deeper and downBermondsey is another gem of a station on the Jubilee line extension. I’d honestly not expected, so early into this 150, for the Jubilee to be the line way out in front in terms of mentions. But there you go. So much for Charles Holden (for now, at least).