Vauxhall Cross Bus Station, London

Vauxhall Cross Bus Station, London

Architect

Arup Associates

Structural Engineer

Arup Associates

Steelwork Contractor

Hawk Engineering & Construction Ltd

Main Contractor

Norwest Holst Ltd

Client

Transport for London

Design Principles

The bus station has been realised as a 200m long, 12m wide, undulating stainless steel ‘ribbon’, which rises as a ‘superlong’ cantilever at its northern nodal end. The development of this as an idea is a functional response to the aspirations and constraints of the brief and the site conditions.

The undulations along the length of the canopy reflect the frequency of bus stands. Each dip of the canopy provides a seating refuge and raking support for the canopy above, which rises over the height of double-decker buses. The folds in the layered ribbon also echo London’s iconic bus and Tube route maps, dating back to the 1930s. The open canopy, rather than an enclosed building, offers free and safe access through permeability and visibility, not obstruction. The emphasis along the concourse is on movement rather than occupation. Equally, the undulating structure has minimal contact with the ground and potential obstructions, remaining from the former highway use which included a significant presence of buried mains services and sewers.

The principal intermodal circulation and the key operational accommodation are at the canopy’s northern end, the accommodation structure being used as a springing point to launch the ribbon’s dramatic elevating twin cantilevers. These over-sail the circulation area and underground obstructions, and project over the most prominent vista of the site to demark the interchange location.

The cantilevers combine their urban role with a functional purpose. The arms are at a 20° inclination facing south and covered with a photovoltaic array to generate power for the building operation, and to actively display the application of the Mayor’s Energy Strategy policies to a new public building. By day, the ribbon allows daylight to enter throughout the circulation area and displays itself in its bold choice of material and sculptural form. By night it becomes an animated floodlit beacon, offering both visual excitement and a well-lit safe environment.

Steel Structure and Fabric

Steel construction was the obvious choice as it offered off site prefabrication of components and convenient erection of modules within the confines of the ‘island’ site. Stainless steel cladding was selected as the most appropriate material to deal with the exposed conditions and durability requirements. Steel is also fully sustainable as it offers end of life recyclability.

Judges’ Comment

s:

This important, but modest, scheme develops an iconic structure which has helped to regenerate a rather forbidding urban traffic junction.

The bus station elegantly gathers together all the elements of public transport – control room, shelter, wayfinding, seating, lighting, etc., within an overall umbrella surface which weaves its way overhead. The steelwork and cladding are relatively straightforward but effective, and the detailing at street level is rugged.

Particularly interesting is that the shape of the roof reflects the graphic of the bus route map.