Southbank Mosaics are ready to help transform Waterloo station into a landmark place to visit in its own right. We are a team of artisans who live and work locally with the experience and skills to make public spaces vibrant, to link them to their histories and provide visual fragrance for those who pass by. We have already worked on seven award winning projects with Network Rail, including creating the first quarter of a city in the UK dedicated to an artist: Blake’s Lambeth. Now with the Waterloo Station Improvement Plan we have a great opportunity to use the talents of artists at our studio who will support and share their expertise.
The railway line running in front of Waterloo’s impressive façade epitomises the complexity architects and designers have in conveying the significance of their achievements. The station is a transport hub where utility and the formidable task of moving 50,000 passengers every day has overwhelmed the grand impression original architects planned to convey. Permeability and safety are understandably core tasks.
Waterloo station is the UK’s busiest railway hub with a brilliant opportunity to display its heritage, vibrancy and customer focused ethos to more people than any other rail station. With its current development and improvement programme there is the resource and energy to recognise its role as a catalyst and connector of many business, community and family interests.
The single group of people who are intrinsically most involved in Waterloo station as a place are local residents. They are customers, consultants, shoppers, pedestrians, way finders, greeters and saying farewells to many of the visitors who come through the station.
Waterloo station has a greater impact on its community than any other site or operation in the area. It is very encouraging when the Network Rail team take the task of engaging local people with their development plans seriously.
No one is more knowledgeable about the area and more useful as consultants and co-producers than residents. No employees are more proud of the neighbourhood than those who live here. The way to ensure the success of their significant improvements is to learn from the mistakes of the Southbank Centre whose major development plans were scuppered by skate boarders, or the Garden Bridge Trust who woefully underestimated the concerns of residents. Senior managers at Network Rail will understand that to be genuinely responsible for this site and to be employed in this area they have an important opportunity to work alongside local residents to ensure best outcomes and create a lasting impression. There will inevitably be difficulties with closing the station for periods of time for new development. Having positive news stories about supporting the local community shows a common purpose.
It is their legacy as public servants and managers of community space, and our heritage as local residents that will be hugely enhanced through working together.