The London Underground is the second longest metro system in the world, opening in 1863; it became the first underground railway system in the world. Today, consisting of around 400 kilometres of track and serving 270 stations, the Underground has a striking presence across London thanks to the omnipresence of the roundel on London’s streetscape.
London Underground has a strong design tradition. London's Victorian transport design was chaotic. Frank Pick brought planning and order to the Underground after he joined the company in 1906. He began to apply consistent design standards across the growing transport system.
Pick's progressive design management has had a lasting impact on the face of London. No other modern design programme has been implemented with such effective and comprehensive results as Pick's groundbreaking work for the Underground and London Transport over more than 30 years.
Frank Pick was impressed by the engineering of the early Underground. But he began to look for what he called a ‘new architectural idiom’ that could transform a Tube station from looking like an uninspired hole in the wall.
Pick wanted designs that were inviting, functional and made a positive contribution to London’s environment. This was particularly important in the suburbs served by new Tube extensions, which often had no traditional centre. The architect who developed this civic vision with him was Charles Holden.
The historical influence of the Underground in shaping London’s character, form and geographical boundary cannot be underestimated. Click the relevant links below to find out more about some of the distinct design features of each of the 11 Underground lines; the station places associated with them or station design elements: