The new and improved Whitechapel Station, designed by BDP Architects, forms a key part of a seven-year construction programme for the new Elizabeth Line Crossrail route – a high-speed train and tube link that will connect the outer western edges of London to the outer east.
Hailed as the biggest transformation of the London transport system in recent years, the route passes through 41 stations and stretches over 60 miles, from Reading and Heathrow airport, through central London then on to Shenfield and Abbey Wood.
Works on Whitechapel Station, which is based within the Whitechapel Market Conservation area of London, include upgrades to the existing transport services and entrances, as well as development of a new elevated concourse that acts as a bridge improving community links.
Taking place in an area of special historical interest, it was essential that the upgrades made to the station, which includes extending a Victorian entrance from 1876, and the building products specified, remained respectful and in keeping with the character and heritage of the surrounding location.
In addition, as the interior of a railway is often exposed to extremely harsh environments, which can include excessive noise and air pollution, vibration, higher levels of wear and tear and a greater risk of vandalism and theft; the materials chosen for the facades had to be both robust and easily maintainable.
It was therefore extremely important to the client and architects that the chosen system was both light in weight, to reduce weight-loadings on the structure, but could also offer high levels of strength and durability, aesthetics and the ability to be easily maintained.
With this in mind, BDP specified Proteus Facades’ Proteus HR Stainless Steel panels with a Rimex bead-blasted Granex finish in grey and black for use throughout the Station, alongside TECU brass copper panels for a new entrance on Durward Street.
Proteus HR is a modular rainscreen system that offers a smooth façade with recessed joints and can be easily maintained. The panels are robust and strong but have a lightweight aluminium honeycomb core, which is structurally bonded between two thin gauges of metal.
The Granex grey Proteus HR panels at Whitechapel feature across main entrances, ticket halls, columns, stairs walls and lift elevations, as well to the corridors and alongside fire doors. To ensure a quality finish was carried all the way through, Proteus also fabricated matching stainless steel capping’s that create an uninterrupted façade and hide any open steelworks.
The Granex Black panels feature throughout the interior of the Circle & District Line platform, including on the entrance, ticket walls and stairs. A darker finish was chosen for this section of the Station as lighter colours against the signals and natural daylight shining onto the open-air platform created glare for the trains coming in. To create a consistent finish throughout, Proteus Facades also fabricated matching bespoke circular and square panels and way-finder bands for use vertically on columns within the platform.
Each panel at Whitechapel Station, installed by engineering and construction contractors Kilnbridge, is fixed in place using a unique system of aluminium carriers and ancillary components; designed and manufactured by Proteus Facades. This alongside the simple but eye-catching design, allows for individual panels to be removed and if required replaced easily, efficiently and in as little time as possible to reduce disruption to commuters and workers.
By applying a Rimex finish into the Proteus HR panel system, Proteus Facades was able to provide an even more robust rainscreen panel for the high-footfall Station. A Canvas pattern was chosen as this design helps to reduce any visual imperfections in the façade should denting or other wear and tear occur. An important factor to consider when the station is expected to welcome a train every five minutes during peak times and approximately 250 million passengers a year.