Nice design but a longer walk: Commuters share views on new Hackney Wick station

Passengers get to grips with the new station. Picture: Francesca Fazey

Passengers get to grips with the new station. Picture: Francesca Fazey - Credit: Archant

For the past year, passing through the London Overground station at Hackney Wick has felt like walking through a construction site.

The new £25million Hackney Wick station upgrade. Picture: Francesca Fazey

The new £25million Hackney Wick station upgrade. Picture: Francesca Fazey - Credit: Archant

Now, the £25 million upgrade that began in January last year is complete and the station feels more like something from the South Bank, complete with airy modern staircases and unique design elements.

It was officially re-opened today in a ceremony hosted by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), which spearheaded the project.

While many commuters are complimentary about the striking new architecture, which draws on elements of the waterways around the area and its industrial heritage, some feel a little cynical about what the upgrade signals for the future of Hackney Wick’s more artistic character.

“Honestly? I do like the design, but I don’t like what it means for the area,” said Adam James, 39, who moved away last year but still returns regularly.

Design features at the new Hackney Wick station. Picture: Francesca Fazey

Design features at the new Hackney Wick station. Picture: Francesca Fazey - Credit: Archant

“I miss the old Hackney Wick, where artists could live affordably. This is part of a wider change that will ultimately price them out.”

Irene Shamma, 35, an architect who lives in the area, feels similar. She said: “Out of context, the design is interesting. But I don’t feel like its aligned to Hackney Wick. The whole area is changing into something it’s not.”

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Not everyone sees the upgrade in this light though. “I don’t think we should complain,” said Ken Odonkwo, 38, also an architect. “I think it’s pretty swanky and it’s nice to have a new station. Not everyone gets one.”

The new station has been designed by London-based architects, Landolt+Brown, as part of the Olympic Legacy Project.

A full wall of glass cut together in a continuous chain of hexagons is meant to reflect the experience of walking and cycling along the neighbouring Hackney Cut canal and Lee Navigation, alongside the weeping willows and under the canal bridges.

The wall opposite is adorned with giant chemical compound symbols, which in fact show the chemical compounds that were produced in Hackney Wick, including parkesine, the world’s first plastic.

There is a new ticket office on the ground floor and two sweeping staircases leading up to the platforms.

Several people appreciate these practical aspects more than the artistic elements.

“It’s good to have a proper ticket office that looks a bit more professional,” said Tanya, 40, a journalist who commutes through the station for work.

For many however, the niceties of the new design are overshadowed by the inconvenience of now having only one entrance. Previously, it was possible to access the station from the north and south side, through Wallis Road and White Post Lane respectively. Now, the only working entrance is on the south side, meaning commuters going the other way have to walk all the way around.

“It’s definitely better, but an exit on the other side would be nice,” said 24-year-old gaming programmer, David Mariscal. “It’s almost another five minutes to walk around.”

“The new design is silly! I just missed a train because of it!” another commuter, Rico Ramone, a 24-year old youth worker told us.

According to the LLDC though, passengers will ultimately be able to access the station on the north side as well, via a pedestrian subway eventually connecting Wallis Rd to White Post Lane. However, this is only due to be finished at the end of 2019.

“Even though it will be a longer wait, the station entrances will be much nicer than they were before”, an LLDC spokesman said.