London Victoria is the city’s second largest railway terminus with over 170 million passengers passing through it every year. Like other transport hubs with similar statistical superlatives, Victoria and its surroundings evolved in a piecemeal manner privileging infrastructural efficiency over quality of public realm. Addressing this disorientating, scale-less, even hostile, environment, our ambition was to establish a circulatory order that reasserts the rights of the pedestrian and distributes movement without neutering metropolitan vitality.
If there is a theme to the area it is movement. Can the movement that ripples through the area be co-opted and translated into urban and architectural form? Can the intensity of the quotidian commotion be counterpoised with a sense of order, scale and legible hierarchy?
Our aspirations for Nova were initiated by a public/private collaboration that aimed to use the development to declutter the transport detritus accumulated around the station over decades. This wasn’t to be an island development with its back to the surroundings, but an integrated piece of urbanism with a distinct character. The result was the largest single planning consent ever submitted to Westminster City Council.
Victoria Circle Limited Partnership (Land Securities and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board)
Offices, Retail, Apartments - both Market-rate and Affordable, Community Space / Library,
extensive new public realm
2 ha Site Area
132,200sqm Development Area
Movement, which we interpreted as lines of desire, transport vectors and view lines, generated the project’s form. At ground, the movement of people shaped a hierarchy of north-south and east-west routes, at once connecting the site to its surroundings and defining the footprint of its various components. Movement is also evident within the subterranean level - a masterplan in its own right which accommodates a new Underground station entrance and ticket hall. Beyond spatial continuity, the masterplan also responds to the adjoining areas of historic, civic and political significance, including Grosvenor Gardens and the Royal Parks and Westminster Cathedral Conservation Areas.
To inform the massing of the individual buildings, we devised a simple and versatile geometry: four-sided polygons cut diagonally to form triangles. These triangles were extruded and sculpted to respond to sensitive historical views. In doing so they elicit a formal dynamism and degrees of transparency, texture, pattern and colour.
The buildings, two office and one residential, step down towards the lower historic fabric to the west and rise towards the east culminating with the prow of Nova South, which concludes the run of contemporary buildings along Victoria Street. The undulations of the external fins with their variable profiles ripple across the façade, producing an effect of persistent oscillation as one crosses the site.