When History Repeats Itself

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Mark Ovenden in London Underground by Design on Charles Holden who designed over fifty stations in an unparalleled career:

Holden's style was minimalist - almost austere. But the restrained (yet stylish) use of signage and logos, wide entrances and smart cream-coloured tiling reflected prevailing taste - sleek, contemporary and with an air that all would run smoothly and efficiently. Holden's emphasis on flat surfaces with fine geometric detailing and the widest possible opening in the facade not only met Pick's [his employer] requirement for unobscured entrances but provided a neat, unmissable 'shopfront' for modern railway.

Holden's approach to architecture was 'to throw off its mantle of deceits; its cornices, pilasters, mouldings'. Sounds familiar. This was 1924 when Frank Pick was contemplating how a station could combine an impression of authority and modernity with functionality. Holden was Pick's guy and an inspired choice; he's credited for revitalising design in the railway environment. Sounds also familiar.