Pop-up garden at Barbican Station

New lease of life for disused platforms

The Friends of City Gardens and integrated design practice Gensler have established a pop-up garden on disused platforms at the Barbican Underground Station.

Thameslink ceased operating at the Barbican Station in 2009, thus ending the station's multimodal operation. As a result, two rail lines and the southern platform are no longer in use. The Friends approached Gensler for help improve this unused utilitarian space, ahead of the lines and platform being repurposed for Crossrail in 2017.

As the pop up garden is situated on a platform closed to the general public, the perception and experience of the garden is primarily visual and from across the tracks. As we peer out of the window, our perception of the garden changes as the speed with which we pass it changes,’ says Gensler.

‘As the train passes through the station, slowing down and speeding up again, it would appear with maximum exposure at the centre of the platform. To either end, the train would appear to be less dense, less opaque. In terms of light, the centre might also be the brightest, or show the most colour.’

The spacing and grouping of planters along the platform seek to emulate this phenomenon. Starting loosely spaced, they are more tightly spaced at the middle of the platform and spread out again towards the opposite edge. Similarly, the planting starts low and becomes denser and higher towards the centre, decreasing again to the end.

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