Whitechapel Station Concourse, London

The Project
Project: Whitechapel Station Concourse (London Underground, London Overground and Elizabeth line) 
Client: Crossrail 
Architect: BDP 
Structural engineer: Arcadis  

A 50-metre elevated concourse suspended high above the platforms of Whitechapel station helps to manage passenger flow at the busy travel hub.  

Advanced glass, supplied by Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, part of the NSG Group, lets light into the space while providing commuters with sheltered passage whilst entering or egressing the Elizabeth Line. 

All stations must be designed to provide the highest level of protection to passengers in the case of an accident or fire, according to Transport for London’s (TfL) stringent safety standards. This meant specifying an advanced glass solution for the barriers that delivered both the structural integrity and aesthetic appearance required for a raised walkway.  

Pilkington Pyroclear® Plus fire-resistant glass was specified along the elevated concourse, with the project forming part of refurbishment works across the Elizabeth line. 

Coming at it from a new angle 

The project included a sequence of glass panelling, held within wideset horizontal metal frames to create a smooth glazing around the elevated concourse. The advanced glass allows for the feature to run along sloped inclines required to transport passengers from above ground to platform level. 

A key hurdle for the project was accounting for the incline required for the station corridors. While Pilkington Pyroclear® Plus had been tested and approved for inclines of up to 10°, Whitechapel required the panel integrity to remain at 15°. 

Fire resistant testing up to temperatures of 1000°C for a duration of 90 minutes was carried out to ensure the glass was fit for the application. Testing for a significantly extended period of time provided the data to demonstrate that the glass would perform its function for the required 30-minute specification, while under the greater strain of a 15° incline. 

Pilkington Pyroclear® Plus’ ability to withstand significant heat from open flames will play an essential part in ensuring passengers’ safety.  

Peter Jenkins, Architect Director, Head of Transport at BDP, said: Whitechapel station feels very different to other underground stations. The daylight, natural ventilation and open environment create a welcome ambience in this congested part of the capital, enabling people to enjoy fresh air and views to the outside environment from the concourse, with enhanced historic features which highlight the unique personality of the local community.   

“Pilkington UK’s efforts to go above and beyond to ensure that it’s fire resistant glass could stand up to specification requirements was essential in supporting a bright, safe and modernised design approach to commuter travel across London.” 

Supporting London’s wider transport network 

Pilkington UK has also been involved in supporting passenger safety across other areas of the Elizabeth line, supplying four kilometres of glass passenger safety barriers at platform edges. 

The glazed barriers feature on both the 240-metre-long eastbound and westbound platforms at the Paddington, Bond Street, Woolwich, Canary Wharf, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel stations. 

Stephen Bond, Customer Support Manager, Fire Protection at Pilkington UK said: “Working alongside Crossrail to facilitate a bespoke architect-inspired installation has highlighted the operational ability of our Pilkington Pyroclear® fire resistant glass range. It is capable of protecting passengers from fire or accidents, while also fitting to the space to deliver the desired aesthetic appearance. 

“This project exemplifies our ability to collaborate with clients to develop unique architectural applications that not only suit form, but function as well.” 

“The newly installed glass across Whitechapel station’s passenger concourse represents our contribution to the safeguarding of London’s commuters, as well as our commitment to supporting one of the UK’s largest transport projects in meeting different design challenges across the line.”  

The Elizabeth line serves 41 accessible stations, 31 of them upgraded, including all three terminal rail stations at Heathrow and services to Reading. It will boost central London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, bringing an additional 1.5 million people within 45 minutes’ commute of central London. 
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Project Details
Surface Area
300 m²
277 Whitechapel Rd, London E1 1BY
Building Type
  • Transport
About the Architect/Installer
B D P London (Building Design Partnership) 16 Brew House Yard Clerkenwell London EC1V 4LJ 020 7812 8000 020 7812 8399
Benefit Led Categories
  • Fire Protection