Woolwich and Abbey Wood Elizabeth line stations nominated for RIBA award

Two Elizabeth line stations in south east London have been nominated for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ award.

That may seem a little odd given both are now a few years old but regardless, they’re included in the 2024 London area category.

Woolwich station

With that in mind I popped over to take a few more photos of station details. Patterns at Woolwich station reference those seen inside artillery barrels and a nod to the town’s history.

Given Woolwich station almost didn’t happen it ended up as a wonderful station – though already suffering overcrowding and pressures with capacity.

Woolwich station

One major issue is just the one entrance and three escalators. Problems are evident now let alone when thousands more homes are built. And many, many area planned.

There’s some lovely touches at street level and on the platforms – and above. Weston Williamson + Partners were the architect behind Woolwich station’s design.

Woolwich station roof

Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood Station by Fereday Pollard Architects is also nominated but very much a tale of two halves.

Inside it’s a lovely, airy space with wooden arches above the concourse offering a great entrance space.

Inside station

Yet it would seem far less attention was paid regarding how it integrated into the streetscape either side.

We have a gloomy mass of blank brick walls and timber slats facing Wilton Road shops.

Facing shopping street

It’s not aging well either.

Not great is it?

Both sides are equally poor at integrating with adjacent streets.

Below is the Felixstowe Road frontage facing shops shortly after completion and before public realm work. Blank walls abound.

Blank frontage for those approaching at lower level

Timber slats are positioned so closely together they resemble a solid mass from afar (which is now turning ever more drab as weathering takes hold) means it’s not looking good – and the drab, heavy grey roof doesn’t help.

Look at the the gaps in wooden panels below in render compared to what was built. You can see daylight between panels in per-construction renders. Not in reality.

Render

The stingray roof is impressive if 100 metres up – but no one is.

Those big blank expanses at street level see little attempt to animate or interest.

This speaks to a wider problem with Abbey Wood station design which seems to place most emphasis on those getting off a bus at the flyover compared to those who live nearby and approach on foot at street level.

Abbey Wood station frontage at street level

The odd thing is ignoring those approaches was odd when built, and yet thousands more or will be walking on foot to the station given numerous developments built or planned.

Abbey Wood hotel and residential plan nearby

There’s the hotel and housing plans on Eynsham Drive. Then Peabody’s plots along harrow Manorway if they ever bother to get moving.

Recently we saw plans metres away at a garage site.

Abbey Wood tower proposed

Flip to the other side of the station and new homes are coming at the former Post Office and Harrow Inn pub site  – though again that’s if Peabody ever bother to do something rather than sit on land for years.

Abbey Wood Post Office demolished in advance of new homes

Despite numerous sites within walking distance of Abbey Wood the frontage facing Wilton Road shopping parade and Felixstowe Road shops is pretty much an afterthought at best.

So while both nominated stations have merit it’s hard to see Abbey Wood as a worthy winner.

Abbey Wood is great inside. Poor outside

Great inside but poor either side and ignoring local context. If it does do well you’ll know the judges havn’t bothered to venture too far on foot at street level to shops either side.

Which reminds me when certain local politicians would venture to Abbey Wood once in a blue moon canvassing for votes.

It was obvious they’d taken a train in from where they actually live miles away then gone to the concourse for their photoshoot before spouting about the area. Always a good laugh.

Regional winners of the RIBA awards will be announced later this spring.

 

Adverts are far from enough to cover site costs and my rent.

You can support me via Paypal here

Another option is via Patreon by clicking here

You can also buy me a beer/coffee at Ko-fi here

There's also a Facebook page for the site here

Many thanks

J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

3 thoughts on “Woolwich and Abbey Wood Elizabeth line stations nominated for RIBA award

  • I have been to both Woolwich and Abbey Wood on the Elizabeth Line and both stations do look very impressive.

    Reply
  • It may be pleasing to look at but as a practical issue I’m wary of a new build underground station that has only one exit.

    Reply
    • I agree Charles underground Stations need more than one entrance to enter and leave the stations. Having only one entrance might help staff catch fare evaders which cost TFL millions. But on health and safety issues there should be more than one entrance.at very underground Station.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.