Paddington Station is one of the top 10 stations on the new Elizabeth Line, a 136-kilometer-long rail link that crosses the entire city from west to east and joins the Bakerloo Line and regional and domestic trains from across the kingdom. In fact, it is the first tube line for passengers coming from Wales and West London.
As well as one of the most iconic in the entire English capital, providing tourists with an access point to some of London’s most sought-after attractions, such as Hyde Park and the Regent’s Canal. During the Crossrail project, in which we participated, Paddington station underwent its most significant transformation since 1854, when construction was completed, and since 1863, when the world’s first subway with three stops was built, from Bishop’s Road (the one in Paddington) to Farringdon.
This new facility allows Paddington station to become one of the most important hubs in London’s road system, connecting the terminuses of regional lines with the Underground line.
Preserving history by modernizing the city
The station project was designed by the architectural firm Weston Williamson & Partners, and the challenge was to respect the heritage of existing structures. The new Elizabeth Line subway station was built south of the original building constructed in the 19th century. A 120-meter-long canopy connects the Paddington station to the Elizabeth Line entrance at Departures Road, which, thanks to a 90-meter opening, remains exposed to the sunlight that radiates throughout the new tube station and allows for natural air recirculation. This canopy was designed and built with a mix of different types of steel, stainless and carbon, as well as the use of large glazing. Departures Road itself, once crowded with cabs and buses, has been transformed into a more welcoming public space equipped with information screens and benches, while cabs have been moved to a purpose-built facility north of the station. The Elizabeth Line is also the most ambitious commission of permanent public artworks in London in the last century, with works developed during the design phase of the structure in close collaboration with engineers and architects, and rich in references to different neighborhoods and their inhabitants. There are many artists who have created works for the stations of the Purple Tube-Rail line dedicated to Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. Artists such as Sonia Boyce and Chantal Joffe participated in this project by creating artworks for other subway stations, but focusing on Paddington station we find the gigantic artificial cloudscape A Cloud Index, designed by American artist Spencer Finch for the 2,300-square-meter glass roof (with more than 30 different types of clouds): the work is inspired by John Constable’s Sky series made not far from the same station, in Hampstead Heath. And it is precisely for this glass roof that we at Montanstahl designed and delivered our profiles, which blended seamlessly with Finch’s work.
Montanstahl for Paddington station
For this project we supplied 180 custom bars of sharp-edged profiles. Special stainless steel profiles with absence of weld deburr and surface defects were required, as the tailor made RHS (Rectangular Hollow Sections) had to be polished by the customer and special attention had to be paid to the surface. We sourced flat sheet metal strips cut them precisely in width and length between 5897 mm and 5899 mm and then assembled them by spot welding. Full penetration welding could have only been achieved with our 5-axis laser welding robot. The stainless steel type used is 316L the inox tubes support as many as 220 custom-made glass panels, each weighing over a ton. The stainless steel transoms intertwine with carbon steel mullions and were bolted together through wing plates connected to each core with countersunk bolts, which in turn were reinforced with plates, also made of 10 mm austenitic stainless steel, welded to strengthen the connection between the stainless steel and carbon steel beams. Finally, handling, packing and transportation also required special attention to ensure the perfect surface finish required by the project.