After 32.5 years, tma is no longer taking on new projects.
It’s been a great journey, doing fine work with good people, making a difference to our infrastructure, learning a huge amount, adding what we can to improve the lot of us all, and enjoying every moment of it.
Over the years we have had enviable opportunities to assist the perception and function of our public transport, while many of the emerging projects we have been supporting in recent times will come to fruition in the years that follow.
We have been privileged to work with clients and fellow designers that are true enthusiasts, that are not simply there to get a job done, but have lived and loved the challenges and opportunities that these projects afford.
We have learned a huge amount from these men and women, from their technical innovation, from their joy in the benefits their work brings, and from the context of mutual respect that is exhibited throughout the sector.
Perhaps most importantly, we have had the opportunity to introduce new men and women to a broad range of design skills, and we have been able to sprinkle exciting talent throughout the industry, with tma alumni in high positions and high demand across a range of transport design organisations.
And so, as we bring our current and emerging commitments to a satisfactory conclusion, we wish the industry all the best for the future.
In the interstitial yards described by the wax and wane of land and water lies opportunity and tradition undiscovered and explored with infrequency.
It is the province of the Mudlark, that distinctly London character, the fundamental exponent of the City’s opportunism and inquisitiveness.
Swan Lane pier is gone, transport infrastructure of times past abandoned and removed to make way for new potential at this historic shoreline.
Nearby, at Bank station, a more recent transport infrastructure that knits our city is being modernised and expanded.
In time-honoured fashion, the Mudlark Platform extracts a marginal benefit from these changes in our City.
Lying just below the water’s surface at high tide, the platform awaits the revolution of the firmament while dispelling the heat of the Underground.
Concealed when the tide is high, as time allows so the facility emerges, the Platform dried by the heat of the platforms, the sealed door opened to welcome the inquisitive and assist their passage to the undiscovered remnants of the City’s past.
In the run up to the opening of the Elizabeth Line, (Crossrail), Bond Street station has undergone some substantial upgrades to relieve congestion and provide step free access. A new entrance has opened on the north side of Oxford Street at Marylebone Lane.
It was while we were developing the new Crossrail station at Bond Street that London Underground asked us to develop the expansion proposals for the LU station, ready to receive the influx of new passengers that Crossrail and the emerging plans for Oxford Street would bring.
There was an amusing reversal of roles as we took over the lead design role and Mott Macdonald, the lead on the Crossrail station, slipped in under our contract for the project next door. We also brought in London Bridge Associates who lived in our office for a few months, as we progressed our joint construction and passenger planning exercises to come up with the practical, functional and economic arrangement that we have become expert in.
That was 2006 and now, 12 years later (why do so many of our transport projects take 12 years to be realised?) a Costain/Laing O’Rourke jv has just completed the project, with Laing O’Rourke’s Steve Nuttall, our colleague from Thameslink days, as the director in charge.
We are of course delighted to see that yet again, despite all the construction planning, assessments and adjustments in the intervening years, the result is much as we set it out all those years ago.
TMA is pleased to announce our two new Associates: Samantha Dean and Luisa Vicente Martinez.
Samantha, finalist in the Women in Construction and Engineering Awards 2017, has been with TMA for ten years. Currently leading the design for Elephant and Castle Station for the Atkins Bakerloo Line Extension, as well as working on Farringdon Station and running TMA Bid submissions. Past projects worked on include outer stations on Crossrail, Walbrook at Bank, due to open this year, and Greenford Station’s Inclined lift. firstname.lastname@example.org
Luisa has been at TMA since 2008 and controls practice design quality and continuity. She led the design for TMA’s Tokyo Metro competition entry which won an award for Design Excellence, and is currently working on the designs for a brand new station for Winsor Link Railway. Past projects include work on Lewisham Station, West Brompton and step-free access for Hanwell Station.
Collaboration is ever more necessary to overcome the challenges that an architect faces in the modern world. Laura Esperidón Parres, TMA alumni and now teacher of Arts & Crafts at Colegio de Fomento Altozano, Alicante, is continuing to nurture the craft of collaboration amongst the next generation of designers.
The aim of her course is for students to work together to gain a better understanding of architecture through an examination of some of the finer historical examples. 20th Century masters – such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright – are studied and the students come together to discuss and create architectural models of their buildings that are then presented to and critiqued by esteemed professors of architecture from the University of Alicante.
Left: Mirador, designed by MVRDV
Right: Leon Auditorium, designed by Mansilla and Tuñón
Alongside her explanations of the collaborative nature of an architect’s work, Laura also teaches that many of the 20thC architects did anything but collaborate, and that this independence of spirit lay behind some of our more exalted architectural heritage. It is told that tensions were stirred when Frank Lloyd Wright’s patron invited engineers to determine the structural stability of Fallingwater, and that Wright cemented their reports into the very walls of the building in his partnering kind of way. How to marry these two apparently opposing approaches is left to the students to contemplate.
What is clear is that while the 20thC architects could enjoy the luxury of architecture as a personal craft supported by wealthy patrons, the metrics of today’s architecture are often far more complex. The craft of the present day architect is in managing the complexity of today’s building technologies, funding structures and approvals processes, with collaboration between a broadly defined and closely integrated client/design team being more essential than ever.
Laura’s encouragement of the next generation to initiate, embrace and craft this essential requirement is an important first step and predicts a strong foundation for the future.
There is a widely held principle in the design of stations in London that a common theme and a clarity of purpose will provide comfort through continuity and will exemplify the brand of good public service. And there is much to be said for it. The common London Underground signage, from colour to typeface, is a much-loved classic, held up by owners and design scholars alike and appreciated by the many. British Rail had a similar standard that has largely sustained through the various manifestations of its ownership. A considerable number of consultant hours are spent each year redefining the subject, setting the rules for materials, colour and lighting in well-designed guidance documents replete with photographs of samples and architectural sketches.
Oddly however, for a system who’s primary role is to take you places, it is rare that the design of our stations reflects the place in which they sit. It is the character of the line that is important, rather than the character of the place you have come to see. And when you are in tunnel, with no connection to the outside, would that not be a distinct advantage in your wayfinding armoury?
And so it was refreshing and encouraging when Tokyo Metro set exactly that challenge – to integrate the character and qualities of the station setting with the continuity of the brand. And intriguingly they asked for the design to be described, not by the designer, but through the story of the people using the stations, through their ambition, their experience and their emotions.
So, in the deep level boxes of Aoyama-itchome, Gaiemme and Omotesando stations, we did this, and received the Excellent Design Award:
Needless to say, presenting to Tokyo Metro and being rewarded with the Excellent Design Prize was the purpose and highlight of our travels to Japan, but that’s not to say TMA didn’t take the opportunity to explore the simplicity of the architecture, the complexity of the urban realm and the quietly effective transport systems. More of which in later posts.
For this one we wish to draw attention to the fascination with order and form, to the delicate and controlled manner in which information is recorded and expressed, the calm visual grid, the continuity of message, the subtlety of change in repetition. It is a theme that is as true in the traditional as it is in the modern.
And then there is the ticketing.
Construction journals and online platforms often focus on output: finished architectural wonders, impressive emerging projects or feats of gravity defying engineering. But what of the input? The women and men whose endeavours – be it in development, design or construction – ensure that these structures become so worthy of praise.
We are pleased to note that it is our staff that have been recognised recently, commended by the industry for individual exceptionalism. In light of recent and welcome studies highlighting a disturbing lack of women in construction, we’re also pleased to report that our award winning team is bucking this trend.
Jayne, winner of the AJ Curtins Graduate prize
Jayne, with John Moister (Curtins) and Will Hurst (AJ), receiving the award
Jerome, in Las Vegas, receiving the Autodesk AEC Excellence Award for BIM Innovation
Luisa, in Tokyo, receiving the Excellent Design Award from Tokyo Metro
Luisa, in Tokyo, presenting TMA design proposal for three Tokyo Metro stations
Trisha, Jayne and Sam who are 2017 WICE Award Finalists
At this time of year, with the sun in the sky for precious few hours, the rare occurrence of its appearance is especially welcome. From its low winter altitude, exaggerated shadows add a dramatic spatial dynamic not seen during the summer months.
Having recently been asked to photograph some of our completed projects (tirelessly monitoring weather apps for the right opportunity) we’ve been out capturing this fleeting solar phenomenon.
How often we use this blog to promote the benefits of our large and prestigious projects, showing just how clever we are with our grand gestures in support of the capital’s infrastructure and our thrusting architectural responses to transport, social benefit and urban regeneration.
So it is both gratifying and humbling to wander round parts of east London and take a few arty photographs of some of our less acknowledged projects as they reach completion.
The DDA project for Docklands Light Railway is one such, where a small budget efficiently applied makes such a large difference to the accessibility of four less well known but no less important stations, and where a dash of lemon yellow and a sliver of polished stainless steel can add both quality and panache to the somewhat dreary environment.
So often we see these belated DDA insertions appear as uber-techno-modernist and thereby somewhat incongruous interventions in our stations. If, as we understand, there is to be more focus on improved access-for-all in London’s transport network this year, here’s hoping it too is designed to uplift its surroundings and be both visible and heartening to the eye.