Network Rail’s asset protection team worked closely with the council to support the project and ensure its delivery in time for its grand unveiling at the ‘Happy Streets’ community festival last month.
Peter Barron, head of asset protection for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said:
“We’re delighted to have been able to work with Wandsworth Council to breathe some life into the area and turn a tired and gloomy structure into a vibrant and welcoming space.
“There were a number of challenging elements to this scheme, most notably ensuring that the design of the refurbishment and cladding still allowed for future maintenance and inspection of critical structural elements of the bridge.
“The project has had fantastic feedback from local residents and this is certainly the kind of initiative we will continue to welcome and work with local authorities and communities across the region to make happen.”
The ‘Happy Street’ project- designed by London-based artist Yinka Ilori- is the outcome of Wandsworth Council’s design competition in partnership with London Festival of Architecture as part of a package of work to improve the public realm around Thessaly Road in Nine Elms.
The walls of the underpass and the bridge to either side are clad with 56 richly patterned vitreous enamel panels using 16 different colours, forming a low-cost, durable and cheerful surface. At night the underpass is illuminated, enhancing the structure as a new local landmark, and giving users a greater sense of safety as well as pleasure as they pass through.
The redesign is a central part of Wandsworth Council’s work to transform the underpass beneath the railway bridge into a bright and welcoming environment for existing communities, pedestrians and cyclists, on a main route between Wandsworth Road and Battersea Park Road.
Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council said:
“I am delighted that this Nine Elms rail bridge has been so successfully transformed into a colourful gateway – together with Yinka Ilori we listened to community concerns and worked closely with local residents and St George's school to ensure we delivered a design that they would be happy living next to.
“This was a unique project to bring art and transport infrastructure together and has been a huge achievement to get finished just one year after the design competition, thanks to close working with our local partners, Network Rail and London Festival of Architecture.
“I hope that what we see here gives fresh inspiration to re-imagine London's built environment and consider incorporating art into other structures around us.”