Did you know that when the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) Paddington Station, opens it will feature one of Europe’s largest artworks? The Cloud Index, sponsored by Heathrow as part of Crossrail’s Culture Line initiative, will be the centrepiece of the Paddington Station – serving as a grand canopy for the main ticket hall. Here at yourHeathrow, we got to take a sneakpeak behind the scenes of the work in progress at Paddington.
The Elizabeth line is set to dramatically reduce travel times to Heathrow from London’s east, with Canary Wharf, for example, to be within just 39 minutes of Heathrow!
Today, the station is still under construction but very much on the way to being a new gateway for Heathrow passengers into London.
The station layout
Built to the south of Brunel’s iconic 19th Century station, directly below Eastbourne Terrace and Departures Road, the new station spans three levels with two entrances into the station via a new pedestrianised public realm.
A 90 metre clear opening – a unique feature for urban underground station design – will be covered by a dramatic steel and glass canopy eight metres above the ground that will let natural light flood down to the station platform. The open void will allow for natural air to circulate through the station.
Printed onto the 120 metre long, 18 metre wide, canopy will be a bespoke work of art by American artist Spencer Finch sponsored by Heathrow. The ‘Cloud Index’ will create a picture of the sky which will appear to change according to the light, the direction of the sun and the time of day in the tradition of artists such as Constable and Turner. (Source: Crossrail.co.uk)
Artist Spencer Finch said, “I want to create a visual experience for travellers that changes each time they pass through the station. This artwork will exist both as an artificial cloudscape and as a homage to the British obsession with categorizing and systematizing the most fugitive of natural phenomena.”
“Since Luke Howard first created a nomenclature for clouds in 1803, the efforts to comprehend and quantify clouds have been both beautiful and quixotic, and clouds always seem to stay one step ahead of human understanding.”
Installing the “Cloud Index”
The Cloud Index will be made up of 180 panels of glass and represents a significant challenge in itself to construct.
To date, Crossrail and Finch have gone through a strenuous process of testing construction materials, modifying layouts to maximise the angle of sunlight in the area, and analysing how the artwork created on different canvas types can alter the overall effects.
A final design and construction technique has now been decided upon, beginning with the artwork being digitally printed on a series of 6 metres long by 2 metres wide, triple layered, glass panels.
To ensure the artwork won’t be damaged by natural elements or pollution, the design is printed on the middle layer of glass. This will also allow for the roof to be cleaned easily.
In 2017, the first stage of the canopy installation will begin with a temporary roof erected, complete with an access deck on top.
This will provide access to the roof for those installing the artwork, and also waterproof the main ticket hall area so that it can be fitted out concurrently.
WATCH | Hear from the artist Spencer Finch and Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye via Crossrail’s video below.