Underground is the new place to go for culture and art, making use of engineered spaces, particularly when their original uses are now redundant. Munich has its the Kunstbau – an underground gallery created in 1994 in a concrete cavern left empty when the Königsplatz subway station was built – and Westminster underground station in London has become a gallery of photographs as part of its “Firsts for the Tube” programme of events to celebrate 24 hour opening of tube lines this autumn, with the latest addition to the programme being a pop-up cinema from May 29 to 31st in a disused tunnel at Charing Cross station, showing such titles as “Strangers on a Train”, “American Werewolf in London” and “Paddington”.
Elsewhere in London, the Brunel Museum and Architects Studio Tate Harmer have published proposals to transform Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s original entrance to the world’s first underwater tunnel, built from 1825 to 1843, into a cultural venue for music performances, theatre and events. The 65ft (19.8m) deep entrance shaft to the Thames Tunnel in Rotherhithe will become a 135-person capacity venue with a new freestanding cantilevered staircase providing public access to the circular ‘sinking shaft’ when construction is completed later in the year. The project is part of a masterplan for the museum formulated by Grimshaw Architects and will also include a redesigned public entrance.
Now its your turn! Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to bring forward their own ideas. Transport for London is seeking commercial proposals for the disused Down Street Tube station, located just off Piccadilly. The station opened in 1907 but closed less than 30 years later in 1932 because of poor passenger numbers. It had a new lease of life during the Second World War when it was the underground headquarters of the Railway Executive Committee and is said to have been used by the Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, and the War Cabinet before the Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall were created.
Transport for London will lease around 400 sq m of the station, just one of many opportunities that will be available part of a programme to realise the untapped commercial potential of its assets, many of which are located in prime busy locations.
“The combination of space, history, and location, makes this a unique opportunity. We are looking for a partner with the imagination to see the potential here and the capability to deliver it…..Adjoining parts of the station are still required for running the Tube, but we will work with interested parties to ensure the commercial and operational activities can happily coexist.” (Graeme Craig, Transport for London).
A unique opportunity for exciting ideas……details can be found in the brochure here.
Photographs from Tate Harmer and Transport for London.