Arts & Culture  Features

New connections: Arch 42

Arch 42 distance Luke Harding_1200px

Published on
September 23, 2021


The Nine Elms neighbourhood is known for its railway lines and roads connecting the area with other parts of London.

Now there’s an exciting new railway arch connection between communities on each side of the tracks, joining up a route between new Tube stations which opened on 20 September 2021 and New Covent Garden Market and the river.

Quick link: the new pedestrian route through Arch 42

Merchants Way, a vibrant new walking route is now open to the public, linking the Northern line Tube station at Nine Elms with Arch 42, Nine Elms Lane and the river.

Where is it?

Arch 42 runs under the railway lines connecting Ponton Road, SW11 and New Covent Garden Market.

Arch 42 location on a map

London Festival of Architecture Talk: Tunnel Visions – A new gateway for Nine Elms 

As part of this year’s London Festival of Architecture, Wandsworth Council hosted an online talk about Arch 42 with architecture studio Projects Office, local historian and poet Hilaire and Cllr Ravi Govindia from Wandsworth Council to discuss the transformation of the arch later in 2021 and how it will make new connections in the area. The discussion was chaired by Tamsie Thomson.

Video workshop

Roll up your sleeves and follow a short video workshop with Megan from Projects Office to find out how to design your own daggerboard with paper, scissors and glue.

Gateways photo gallery

Arch 42 is just the latest gateway to be re-designed or improved in Nine Elms. See pictures of more key gateways around the area in our online photography gallery created for LFA2021.

What is Arch 42?

Arch 42 is an old railway arch forming a section of the Victorian railway viaduct which carries the South Western main line into Waterloo station.

Why is the arch opening up to the public?

The arch opened on 19 September 2021, creating a key public walking route between the new Northern line extension stations, Wandsworth Road, Nine Elms Lane and the River Thames. It’s part of a package of infrastructure and public realm improvements being made by Wandsworth Council, TfL and local partners as the Nine Elms area grows.

The route through the archway will be distinguished by attractive gateways later in 2021. The gateways design was chosen through a competition run by Wandsworth Council in partnership with London Festival of Architecture (LFA).

The chosen design

The design was judged to show the best balance between innovation and artistic merit as well as showing deliverability and practicality for long term maintenance.

With a nod to Nine Elms’ railway heritage, Projects Office are working with school children, residents and traders to reimagine traditional railway station ‘daggerboards’ and develop Tunnel Visions.

The proposals include an archway highlighting the tunnel’s southern entrance with integrated seating and lighting, a decorative arch to the north, a ‘community totem’ which glows at night and plentiful planting.

Tracking the journey so far

In November 2020, an expert judging panel shortlisted six design teams and asked them to propose designs for the gateways.

The design teams came up with six proposed designs to transform the railway arch and in December 2020 a public consultation gathered views from across the community. Nearly 700 members of the public took part and sent in their comments on the shortlisted designs to inform the judging panel.

In January 2021, the winning design was selected by the panel, including David Bickle (partner, Hawkins\Brown), Louise Dransfield (Former London editor, Estates Gazette), Yinka Ilori (artist and designer), Christopher Mansfield (chartered engineer, Network Rail), Alex Rinsler (Nine Elms strategic lead for culture, Wandsworth Council) and Tamsie Thomson (Managing Director, New London Architecture).

In February 2021, the council and LFA revealed that Projects Office won the competition with their original design Tunnel Visions.

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