The Waterloo station terminal gets a facelift
AECOM clever intervention breathes new life into the architecture of London’s iconic Waterloo station terminal in Grimshaw
The old international terminal at Waterloo Station in London has undergone a major overhaul by AECOM Architects. After a year of evaporation from rail transport induced by a pandemic and a decade of uncertainty over the structure and purpose of the heavily modified station, the renovation brings new platforms, a hall and shops to the station. AECOM, which is no stranger to transport infrastructure works, works in the public domain and conversions, had to thread many needles with this renovation, opting for a minimal intervention that united the old and the new for to give a new purpose to one of the most spectacular structures of the British railway. architecture, Grimshaw’s Waterloo International.
This long arched and curved terminal building only served its true purpose for 13 years, from opening in 1994 to closing in 2007. Designed to accommodate long Eurostar trains before they set off on a slow train through. south London towards the Channel Tunnel. , it was met with great success. However, political wrangling and complexity blocked the original high-speed route south, so the Waterloo terminus acted as a stopover before the new St Pancras International could be connected to the last fast link to the coast which took trains via Stratford and Kent instead.
The intricate curved roof of the Grimshaw Terminal, with its distinctive blue metal frame, had been unused for over a decade.
Grimshaw’s magnificent award-winning structure has been left in the air. It took the intervention of AECOM, plus a new plan to convert the terminus to national trains, to ensure that the building was saved and that cleaning and polishing was so desperately needed.
“We have reinvigorated a sleeping beauty, one of the finest pieces of British high-tech architecture,” says Erik Behrens, director of architectural design and project manager of AECOM. “The station follows the dynamic shape of the tracks and narrows from 55 m to 35 m. Nicholas Grimshaw and [the engineer] Tony Hunt designed a very clever repetitive roof structure that was adjustable to accommodate this progressively tapering site. It was an ingenious and meticulous design, one of the most iconic roof structures of that time.
The original curved structure of the former Waterloo International has been renovated and brought back into service on a daily basis
There had been a station on the site since 1848, but the challenge was to fit this structure back into the existing Waterloo Hall, a space that dates back to 1922. As Behrens explains, the process was not easy. Not only had a new glazed connecting structure had to be built, but the circulation was completely revised. The original building was designed to accommodate passport control and all international travel security requirements.
“ Integrating the terminal into Waterloo main station meant building a new connecting bridge and an infill roof over the existing London Underground, ” says Behrens, “ we also had to renovate all spaces under the tracks to meet the latest railway standards. stations and incorporate new commercial spaces. “
Throughout the process, AECOM made sure to stay as true as possible to the original design, continuing the details of the glazing, ceiling panels and concrete finishes. “ We have spent a lot of time studying its key features such as the signature ceiling panels and developing improved versions of the original design discreetly incorporating the myriad of speakers, light fixtures and security cameras currently required. he said.
As train travel begins to rise again, it remains to be seen whether Waterloo Station will regain its crown as one of the busiest stations in the UK. In the years to come, however, there will be even more change as Waterloo’s closest neighbor, the 60s Elizabeth House, is replaced with a new building by AHMM. This new development is expected to significantly improve the public domain around the station, as well as its connectivity to the neighboring south shore. Thanks to the intervention of AECOM, the recent history of the building has become an integral and important part of its future. §