Vauxhall Cross Bus Station, Photo ©Arup Associates
(Click photograph to see more photographs of the Vauxhall Cross Bus Station on the Arup Associates website.)
Vauxhall Cross bus station is glorious! It combines a bold modern design with carefully thought out functionality providing easy interchange between rail, underground and bus services. Its designers, Arup Associates, display their pride in their achievement on the company’s own website.
The canopy is a landmark and an urban sculpture. By night it becomes an animated floodlit beacon. It is a place of function designed as an object of attraction and a symbol of urban regeneration.
Jonathan Glancey, the Guardian’s architectural correspondent, waxes lyrical about the building.
The latest building by Arup Associates isn’t – though it might be tempting to think it – some wilfully extravagant public artwork, or a fashionable “iconic” building with a vague, ironic purpose and a funny roof. It is a bus station, nothing more, nothing less, and its opening in Vauxhall Cross, south London, happened without fanfare. And yet, architecturally, it is a trumpet blast: an extraordinary structure that is striking, clear and unmissable.
…part of what makes Arup’s work so special is the fact that it is localised. This bus station – and the Underground and mainline stations it also serves – has long been trapped in a sulphorous tangle of roads, themselves overshadowed by such poisonous postmodern structures as the MI6 building and a development of showy flats with madcap roofs that resemble the rear ends of Chevrolet Impalas. To stand out in this jungle, the Arup building needed to have a strong, clear voice – and it does.
A building such as this surely deserves an international audience? It should appear in all London tourist guides. It should be on the route of every London coach tour. It should be the subject of tens of thousands of photographs. Well, no, not according to the Metropolitan Police. Five days after the Guardian published Jonathan’s review, it printed the following letter from a 69 year old retired TV cameraman who was visiting London with his 15 year old son.
During a recent visit to London I had a nasty incident, which killed interest in any further trips to this city. As I was taking pictures of double-decker buses with my son, we were approached by two policemen. First, we were told that it is forbidden to take pictures of anything in conjunction with transport. Then our names, passport numbers and London hotel address were noted. After that we were forced to delete all pictures that included any transport – even pictures of the new underground station in Vauxhall, which is a modern sculpture! These deletions were not only enforced destruction of private property, but an infringement of our privacy.
I understand the need for some sensitivity in an era of terrorism, but isn’t it naive to think terrorism can be prevented by terrorising tourists?
Mr Matzka’s letter needs no further comment from us. That serious damage that is being done to the UK’s tourist industry can be seen from how fast his story is being picked up overseas. This article appeared on a Polish website on Friday. As well as Mr Matzaks’s story it describes how Austin Mitchell, MP was challended after taking a photograph of a narrow boat in a lock!