Architect, Peter Jenkins, explains how the new Whitechapel station provides vital interconnectivity across London without sacrificing its distinctive, historic character.

Whitechapel station is one of the most challenging and congested sites in one of the most complex railway engineering projects undertaken in Europe. Its protected Victorian façade and dense urban location with diverse local community, neighbouring school, and The Royal London Hospital all sit adjacent to this important transit interchange connecting the District, Hammersmith & City underground lines with the Overground system and now, the new Elizabeth Line.

The Gate Line at Whitechapel Station

Following a stringent assessment of people movement and circulation within the station, we have created a new concourse and Elizabeth Line platform, radically reorganising a heritage building. Capacity studies demonstrated that an increase in passenger numbers could be accommodated without the removal of important heritage buildings, which contribute to the local character. Crucially, the design emphasis shifted from a below-ground, subterranean solution to an above-ground station bridge, which enhances connectivity and accessibility. 

Entry to the station is through the original refurbished and reinstated 1876 entrance on Whitechapel Road and a spectacular new walkway alongside the concourse leads to a new pedestrian entrance on Durward Street at the northern end, improving connectivity to the surrounding area.

The spacious new ticket office sits on a concourse which has been built on a bridge that floats above the underground and overground tracks that pass through the station. The raised structure allows daylight to stream down on to the platforms. In this way, Whitechapel station feels very different to other underground stations; the daylight, natural ventilation and open environment create a welcome ambience in this congested part of the capital, enabling people to enjoy fresh air and views to the outside environment from the concourse, with enhanced historic features which highlight the unique personality of the existing buildings.

A new green, sedum roof covering the main station concourse delivers both environmental and aesthetic benefits, reducing the heat island effect, improving air quality, noise and storm water attenuation and enhancing biodiversity. 

A new public space to the north has enhanced the character of the local area as well as providing access to the Elizabeth line platform via three escalators and a lift. A widened stone-paved footway forms a forecourt for the new ticket hall and concourse.  Court Street to the west leads to a pedestrian bridge over the Underground tracks, with improved paving and lighting. Part of the strategy was to ensure there was a common architectural language, both for the excavated element of the main station construction and at platform level, with original, culturally relevant elements retained throughout.

The new Whitechapel station is all about making connections. The design connects communities, connects nature to the cityscape and connects people to their destinations. It’s a 21st century station that meets the demands of London’s citizens, commuters and tourists and is a stunning backdrop to travel around the capital. 

One of the new Elizabeth Line platforms at Whitechapel station