In 2005 London Underground Ltd realised that they were rapidly running out of the space needed to run an efficient service on the District and Circle Lines from Earl’s Court Station.
Earl’s Court had developed on a largely ad hoc basis - responding historically to the requirements of the operational business and, to a significant degree, the spatially constrained, landlocked, footprint of the station.
By 2005 most of the accessible footprint had been exploited and the only spaces left were considered either too difficult technically or uneconomic to exploit for operational use.
On the basis of previous successful work undertaken at the station wpa were employed in late 2005 to review the possible options for development, outlining the cost, time & risk implications in association and identifying a way forward that met the business requirement within an acceptable cost & risk envelope. A previously proposed Infraco scheme had proved itself to lie too far outside acceptable parameters so wpa were well aware of the technical challenge the commission posed.
A quick viability study revealed the only space opportunity to be a narrow slot sandwiched to the north & south between the permanent way and the station boundary wall (itself forming the rear garden of the external perimeter block comprising hotel accommodation); at that time occupied by a life expired wooden structure. To the east and west the site was fully constrained by built station fabric.
The brief required accommodation to be provided for train staff booking-on together with associated equipment and display spaces for driver information. Given that the site was landlocked on all sides, accessible only via the station itself and the permanent way, the construction zone was required to be traversed by operational staff at all stages of the build (forming the only link between two LUL inhabited blocks of fabric) with all areas of the station remaining in use during traffic hours for the duration of the build.
Given that access for cranes was out of the question and further that a structure was required to be demolished safely (separated from the running track by a couple of metres critical cable runs) wpa were required to incorporate full construction sequencing into design and assurance plan proposals, fully designing and assuring all the temporary works required as part of the detail design stage.
To minimise the foundation dig and subsequent spoil removal and allow for man-handling access via the station, all building elements were designed as small lightweight components.
wpa designed a safe enclosed access walkway for staff utilising land belonging to the hotels behind the site such that all areas of the station remained safely accessible by staff during the build.
At the conclusion this ‘ship in a bottle’ type project has provided; a new link between locker rooms and staff canteens, Duty Managers’ offices and Booking-on desk, meeting rooms, mess rooms, offices and other facilities.
The booking-on desk engineered using human factors integration methodology to maximise efficiency and ensure staff welfare and the project fluidly interlaced with all station systems (comms, cctv, fire and the like) at all stages of the project to ensure the smooth running of the station.