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Crossrail coming closer
Crossrail – Stunning Architecture
Evidence that the launch of Crossrail (the Elizabeth line as it will be called) is coming closer came this week with the release of the first images of London’s new Crossrail stations.
Each station on the route which will open in two years’ time has been designed by renowned architects to reflect the heritage and character of their local areas, and several qualify as architectural showstoppers in their own right.
Uniquely for a major UK rail project, there is a joined-up building design, with new stations knitting in with the buildings above and alongside them to ensure that stations merge into their surroundings and improve the urban realm.
Each station will be at the heart of new commercial zones and new homes and some will be at the centre of large new neighbourhoods, particularly in Woolwich and also Southall where more than 3,500 new homes will border the Grand Union Canal, with the first unveiled next year.
The spectacular new Canary Wharf station has been built within a dock that will remain a navigable channel for boats. A striking timber lattice roof structure shelters a 310-metre-long park, below which are six levels of shops, restaurants and cafés.
Farringdon station is inspired by the Brutalist architecture of the Barbican yet will be lightened by design elements reflecting the intricate craftsmanship of the nearby Hatton Garden jewellery quarter.
Woolwich’s new Arsenal
The previously walled-off munitions factory will become a 5,000-home neighbourhood and the new station entrance will open onto a new green space flanked by prized listed buildings and classy new apartment blocks.
Homes in these waterfront towers cost between £440,000 and £1,395,000 for duplexes and penthouses, while another phase includes two Georgian warehouses converted into flats priced from £460,000. There are more reasonably priced options however with ex-local authority flats in the area starting at c£150,000
Over 2,000 people have already moved to this mini-district which also features shops, restaurants, bars, galleries, museums and a children’s nursery in historic buildings such as The Guard House.
The station unites the riverside estate with Woolwich town centre via a new pedestrian boulevard.
Woolwich and Abbey Wood, are the only two Crossrail stations south of the river and the latter is likely to experience a more “transformational impact” than anywhere else on the route because journey times to central London will be halved, with a train every five minutes at peak times.
Crossrail is the biggest addition to the local train network at Abbey Wood since the North Kent line which was built in the mid-19th Century and is likely to transform what is now a rather bleak outpost into a completely new demand bracket because it will be one of the best connected and most affordable Zone 4 locations.
Most housing here dates back to the 1950s and 60s when the London County Council built new estates on marshland and where much of the uncompromising concrete architecture has fallen into disrepute. This is now being bulldozed to make way for new homes for the 21st century.
Where there were once concrete towers there will now be a sequence of streets and lakeside squares, an arcade of shops and three miles of waterfront connecting to the new Crossrail station. New river crossings are also being planned for this area of London.
Fusion of art and architecture
In the tradition of other continental railway stations, such as the Paris and Moscow metros, Crossrail is fusing art and infrastructure by creating murals, sculpture and installations, while a “Culture Line” initiative will link stations with neighbourhood art galleries, exhibition spaces and theatres.
One of the permanent artworks — A Cloud Index by Spencer Finch — is embedded within a sensational 120-metre-long glass canopy above the concourse at the new Paddington station, which “echoes the design legacy of Brunel’s existing terminus building”.
Forty new public areas outside stations are creating space equivalent in size to 19 Leicester Squares.
Although many of the best bargains have already gone buying into property along the Crossrail route continues to offer an appeal because the number of “commuters” seeking to cut their journey times continues to increase.
Uncertainty around the potential negative impact of Brexit on the London financial markets and the potential knock on effect on the property market is currently introducing a pause into the rush to buy and property prices are reflecting the new environment.
In the longer term however it’s very likely that the demand for good quality housing on the Crossrail line will continue to grow.