modern architecture london
modern architecture london

Waterloo International

Grimshaw, 1991-93
Railway Station | Waterloo Station, SE1

Photos taken October 1993.

This building was designed as the London terminus for the Channel Tunnel rail link to the rest of Europe.

British Rail laid five new tracks on the western edge of the existing Waterloo station and this determined the form of the entire scheme. The most prominent feature of the building is the roof - a single arch that is distorted to follow the curve of the tracks and changing width of the platforms. Typically with British modern architects and particularly with those associated with the 'high-tech' movement, there is an attempt to contextualise the design as a continuation of a British engineering tradition going back to the time of the industrial revolution and Brunel.

I remember this building going up very quickly with little of the controversy usually surrounding large scale public works of modern architecture. It's not easy to appreciate it from the outside, but I always felt the the building was a huge success where it really mattered - it was a great station in terms of wayfinding. It was always an easy building to understand in terms of knowing where you had to go to check in, complete security checks and get the train. It never felt overcrowded or stressful inside. It was always far better than the modifications made to the Gare du Nord for the terminus in Paris.

The new Channel Tunnel rail terminal opened in a redeveloped St Pancras station in November 2007.