8 February 2010

Dalston Junction station, East London line

Dalston Junction station, East London line

Bleak, isn't it. Modern, antiseptic, safety-first-handrailed to funnel us in and funnel us out more efficiently – quite accidentally a beautifully smooth edge to grind a skateboard on, but no doubt they’re developing facial-recognition CCTV that’ll call security as soon as that thought even crosses your mind.

Not exactly Stirling prize-nominated Westminster station – or the drama of Canary Wharf, or the Paolozzi mosaics at Tottenham Court Road… What happened, what changed? Westminster was barely a decade ago, and no doubt built by the same private finance initiative money. Is decent architecture is only for the elites – MPs in Westminster, bankers at Canary Wharf? I understand we weren’t going to get anything world-changing at dirty old Dalston Junction, but did it have to be quite as soulless as this?

There is a realism to it, perhaps we should commend that? That, as a commuter station, it faithfully reproduces the sucking grind of the daily haul into the office, the fluorescent-lit scan-in scan-out automation that would make you feel very small and anonymous if credit card-recharged Oyster travelcards and CCTV didn’t mean that TfL knows your every last personal detail. The station has no doubt been designed using some terribly clever traffic-flow simulation software that has lots of little blue dots going down to the platforms and little red dots coming back up… And it looks like the kind of space where you’ll feel like a little dot in a big system. That’s design integrity after a sort, right?

I’m sure they’ll add plenty of advertising by the time it’s finished – that’ll brighten the place up a treat.