Aldgate Subways

Cityside Regeneration with Anne Thorne Architect Partnership


Wayfinding & Signage | System and Map Design | Environmental Manifestations | Art competition

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The Aldgate subway system is an extensive 28-exit pedestrian tunnel running under London’s busy Aldgate East, Petticoat Lane and the City.

Our focus was to bring clarification to the complex system of exits and thoroughfares and encourage use of the tunnels, dispelling public notions of risk. The wayfinding system covers maps above and below ground, directional signage and audio signage. It is complimented by walls of decorated enamel panels, ceramic tiles and lightboxes that brighten the space with specially commissioned imagery and poetry contributed by local artists.

The subways are zoned by colour, each of which touches on a theme that reflects the diversity of the surroundings above ground. These include; yellow ­for Brick Lane with its mix of cultures and people, blue for the City with images of pinstripe suits, tall buildings and executives, and red showing the multi-culturalism of the area through life and play.

An eclectic mix of designers, architects, artists, writers and community members worked on the project to ensure a genuine, exciting and effective transformation of the space owned by the users and residents in the local area.

The nature of the underground tunnels dictated that all signage and graphic fabrications methods specified with longevity in mind. Hard-wearing materials and processes such as slip transfer tiling and vitreous enamel printing were used. Graphics were also designed to be  ‘visually dense’ to minimize blanks spaces that might attract graffiti and tagging.

Finalist – FX International Interior Design Awards: Best Installation for Public Space.