Half a dozen architects have had a crack at rejigging the historic site
Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners has submitted plans for the controversial redevelopment of South Kensington tube station.
Built in 1868, the grade-II listed station is one of the oldest and busiest on the tube network with more than 34 million annual visitors.
Julian Harrap Architects is working on heritage elements of the scheme.
The plans were first unveiled in May last year after RSHP was chosen by Transport for London and new developer Native Land to draw up a new vision for the site in 2018.
It made RSHP the sixth architect in 30 years to attempt a rejig of the historic station, where previous redevelopment attempts – including a proposal for a tower – have been fought off by an army of passionate heritage campaigners.
Other architects to have given it a shot are Scott, Brownrigg & Turner (1989), Terry Farrell & Partners (1997 & 2002), Francis Machin (2006), John McAslan & Partners (2009), and Buckley Grey Yeoman (2016).
Richard Rogers’ practice has form for being asked to take over west London projects where other architects have failed. It won planning last year for the redevelopment of Hammersmith town hall after Sheppard Robson and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands had failed. And this year it replaced Dexter Moren on a high-rise hotel project also in Hammersmith. Native Land - which worked with RSHP on the Stirling shortlisted Neo Bankside - will be hoping the same will happen in well-heeled South Ken.
The latest proposals include a four-storey bullnose building which will replace the existing horseshoe-shaped structure at the front of the station.
It will contain retail space on the ground floor with office space above.
Also included will be 50 homes in the vicinity of the site, around 17 of which of which will be “affordable”.
The station’s historic Victorian arcade will be restored – a win for campaigners who have sunk past proposals which threatened to remove the feature.
The scheme will also see lifts installed for the first time in the station which is used by millions of visitors to the Natural History Museum, V&A and Science Museum.
Weston Williamson has already won planning for separate station capacity upgrade works including enlarging the ticket hall which can become dangerously overcrowded in school holidays.
>> Also read: Buckley Gray Yeoman plans South Ken Tube development
Tracy Meller, partner at RSHP, called it a unique opportunity to enhance the area. She said: “These proposals build on the existing legacy of refined architecture in the area and provide for buildings of a scale, massing and carefully considered design that are sympathetic to the surrounding townscape.
“We have carefully studied the historic context of the station and surrounding area and our designs aim to repair and enhance the streetscape, which is no longer in its best condition following the development of the railway over the past century and a half.
If Kensington & Chelsea council approves the proposals work is scheduled to last two years and to start in the first quarter of 2023.