Arts & Culture  News

Arch 42 gateway designs: have your say

The Victorian railway Arch 42 in Nine Elms

Published on
December 7, 2020


Are you ready for a journey through Arch 42? 

A shortlist of six design teams have now put forward their proposals to transform Arch 42 into a welcoming public route between the new Northern Line Extension, New Covent Garden Market and the River Thames.

View the design proposals for this incredible project, which aims to give a historic railway arch a makeover that will bring a spring to your step as you travel to and through Nine Elms. Whether you like to stroll, roll or cycle around the area, we want to know what you think. 

Tell us your views!

The best people to advise our judging panel is everyone living and working in and around Nine Elms.

Take a look at the proposed designs below and send in your feedback to help the judging panel make their decision in January.

These shortlisted proposals represent each team’s initial ideas for how each side of the arch ‘gateway’ could look. The final proposal will be developed with input from the local community and businesses in the area, as well as the judging panel.

This online exhibition gives you the chance to look at the designs and also hear from the artists themselves in their own words. In each video, the teams describe their vision of what their design will bring to the area.

1. The Spectacularly Marvellous Arch by Bamidele Awoyemi, Farouk Agoro & Livia Wang [BFL]

‘The Spectacularly Marvellous Arch’, otherwise known as Arch 42, is a playful intervention acting as a connector between both sides of the Victorian railway viaduct.

Nine Elms has always been a site of multiple identities and change—a place of childhood memories, chance meetings, and exchange. This, layered with the ‘open secret’ of the ever lively New Covent Garden Market, and the emerging economy and residents North of the arch has resulted in a rich overlap of communities both old and new.

A curious thing for a curious place, Arch 42 seeks to embrace and celebrate the nature of the area through elements which playfully weave and work their way through the existing arch. Influenced by the industrial steel of the railway, the strong visual language of road markings, and colourful traffic signage, the intervention incorporates a palette of colours, forms and materiality to create playful moments for all passing by and through.

Through its interplay with the existing viaduct, we see Arch 42 as a moment to encourage new encounters and experiences through moments of joy and delight. With such a diverse community and vibrant trades in close proximity, ‘The Spectacularly Marvellous Arch’ is an opportunity to celebrate local voices and their differences, acting as a point for rich cultural engagement between communities, artists and visitors alike.

2. Echoes by Katrina Russell Adams and BAT Studio

Katrina & BAT have a teamed enthusiasm for creative thinking, art, history, trains, architecture, play and community. In ‘Echoes’ we envisage welcoming bold playful sculptures as free-standing archway additions. Some will function as seating whilst others will include lighting and planting.

The shapes of the proposed installation are inspired by the rich Nine Elms history of rail transport. With influence drawn from the railway viaduct structure, historical imagery, surrounding architecture, and space; each abstracted shape has a narrative.

As part of our research, Katrina produced a series of prints that BAT then digitally reworked into 3D forms, creating a trail of smaller sculptures that lead to the tunnel and crescendo at the gateways. Passing through the tunnel itself frames views of the sculptures aligned to the original artworks. This careful composition will allow visitors to walk into and through the artwork that echoes the history of the area.

Sculptures would be made from various materials inspired by the industrial and railway history of the site. Bespoke glazed bricks are proposed for the grounded structures whilst wire mesh cages will form translucent overlapping shapes above. The sculptures will be colourful, bright, and entertaining as a nod to the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, celebrating the introduction of vibrancy, culture, and entertainment to the area.

The proposed new Gateways will embody fragments of the past to celebrate Victorian engineering and the areas railways history. As the new route connects new communities we hope this transformation will make it unmissable and importantly unforgettable.

3. The Story Walk by DS.twelve

Illuminating the stories of Nine Elms: In the changing landscape of Nine Elms, the Story Walk collects and celebrates the stories of the area and its inhabitants.

The gateways are formed from simple recycled acrylic lanterns that resemble stained glass, inspired by the long history of glassmaking in the area. The lanterns are interactive, decorated with illustrations and text sharing local stories.

Connecting the north and the south: The lanterns transform the arch into a bright and curious beacon, connecting the north and south.

On the north side, people approach through a garden of scattered lanterns, guiding them to the arch. As people pass by, they can spin the lanterns to reveal more of each story.

On the south side, the lanterns are recombined to form a crystalline, carnivalesque canopy. Responding to the form of the historic arch, the canopy expands outwards, bringing the entrance forward to greet the public.

Our approach: DS.twelve have a background working on sensitive heritage buildings and sites. Our approach is centred on the belief that change is continuous and vital to the ongoing life of places.

The meaning attached to a place is complex, and the Story Walk reflects this by celebrating the stories of the area through the voices of people who have lived and worked there, now and in the past.

As well as drawing on historical research, we will work with local community groups to collect untold local stories, past and present, building a picture of the area that is layered with memories.

4. Grotto 42 by FFLO, Local Works Studio, Allt Engineering and Anna Reading

“Please, spare a copper, For my grotter, Only a ha’penny please” (Olde Wandsworth saying)

For Grotto 42 We thought of tunnels through the landscape, holes in the ground, then caves and their adornment. And our minds turned to the shell Grottos of rococo English gardens and their Italian renaissance precursors, allegorical journeys into a magical underworld.

We would build the two tunnel entrances as fabulous sparkling arches, formed of ‘Oystercrete’, a sustainably sourced material made from Oyster shells, waste of the local restaurant trade, baked at a low temperature on flaming ricks to form a naturally sparkling lime cement of varied hues.

The collection and baking of the shells would be a community event in itself: a theatrical moment of participation in the production of the Grotto arches, and the beginning of the consultation process of creating the magical underworld within.

Grotto 42 is a very sustainable structure. It is made from local waste materials mixed and reassembled, a process everyone can enjoy seeing, and learning if they choose,  to make a beautiful organic structure from waste

The monolithic oystercrete arches of grotto 42 would be built, free standing off the face of the viaduct, a sparkling shellwork invitation to a brief journey through the underworld. Shell structures, made of a shell based cement forming shell grottos.

5. Tunnel Visions by Projects Office

This co-design project will bring the diverse and growing local community together to create a bold new identity for Nine Elms. Our colourful proposals will celebrate the area’s rich history, empower residents and visitors to explore the area on foot or by bike, and invite them to contribute directly to an exciting local landmark that celebrates the area today.

With a nod to Nine Elms’ railway heritage, we’re reimagining traditional railway station ‘daggerboards’ to create a new design language. We’ll work with school children, residents and traders to design new daggerboards for Nine Elms. Using simple paper-cutting techniques – either in facilitated workshops or following online instructions – participants will create their own beautiful repeat patterns which will be applied to intricately cut timber façades.

We’ve created a flexible kit of parts and will work with the local community to select preferred elements to create a visual connection from Ponton Road to the new tube station. Additional elements can be added or relocated as required, or as the local context changes.

  • A dramatic funnel archway highlighting the tunnel’s southern entrance.
  • Integrated seating and lighting will make the arch feel safe for everyone.
  • A decorative arch to the north with a low fence to help navigate the shift in level
  • A ‘community totem’, which glows at night
  • Trees in planters

Constructed from sustainably sourced timber and built to last, the elements can be recycled or relocated at the end of their design life.

6. Two Halves Made Whole by The Klassnik Corporation

“What is an arch? Two segments of a circle, each of which being weak in itself tends to fall…but…combine to form one strength.”  LdV

Our proposal embraces the geometry of arch 42 and the language of industrial materials – steel, mesh, bolt and brick found nearby.

Approaching from the South and the new Nine Elms station, a colourful new entrance appears, formed in steel arches & drawn forward from the recessed existing opening.  Rising up at the front and splaying out sculpturally, this new mouth to the arch visibly smoothing the approach and concealing the columns and overhanging track clutter above. A welcoming, colourful invitation to enter. Working with local people we will explore colour combinations for the arches in our Technicolour Tunnel, alongside uncovering facts, stories and locations to highlight on wayfinding discs fixed either side.

To the North, two ‘half arches’ formed in gabion mesh are located either side of the new ramp.  Positioned to be clearly visible along Ponton road & the river approach.  Partially filled with brick and rubble from local construction they are solid at the bottom and light at the top, enabling a taller feature. At night, lights built into these structures create a subtle glow – improving visibility from a distance.  With main signage built in at high level. At low level maps are fixed to the mesh faces along with temporary signage to highlight new places as the area evolves.

What is Arch 42? Two halves made whole.

So what did you think?

Let us know by filling in our super-speedy Arch 42 gateways survey.

The survey is open for entries until Sunday 3 January 2021.

What happens next?

Your feedback will guide our expert panel of competition judges, including: David Bickle (partner, Hawkins\Brown), Louise Dransfield (London Editor, Estates Gazette), Yinka Ilori (Artist and Designer, Yinka Ilori Studio), Christopher Mansfield (chartered engineer, Network Rail), Alex Rinsler (Nine Elms strategic lead for culture, Wandsworth Council), Tamsie Thomson (Managing Director, New London Architecture)

We will announce the winning design in late January. The design will then be developed with the winning team ready for installation in 2021.

Find out more about the Arch 42 project

Previously: In November we announced the shortlisted design teams for the ‘Arch 42 Gateways’ competition.

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