An exhibition of Charles Holden’s designs for London Transport

The V&A and RIBA are presenting an exhibition celebrating architect Charles Holden’s designs for London Transport. A selection of original drawings, photographs, posters, film, journals and models will tell the story of his modernist designs for some of London Underground’s landmark stations.

Of the 270 stations on the underground network, more than 40 were designed by Charles Holden. His Piccadilly line stations, such as Arnos Grove, Boston Manor and Southgate are regarded as Modernist icons and their importance is reflected in their grade II listed status. Holden is also known for his Northern line stations and his interior refurbishment of stations such as Piccadilly Circus. The exhibition will look at his first designs for stations such as Westminster and Stockwell through to his latest designs and will also include a section on his designs for fixtures and fittings – some of which we still know and love today.

In addition to his stations, designs and images will also be displayed for Holden’s new headquarters for London Underground at 55 Broadway.  Sitting on top of St James Park station and surrounded by commercial offices, it was the tallest office building in London and dominated the city skyline at the time of its completion in 1929.  

Holden’s relationship with London Transport’s chief executive, Frank Pick will be examined as their collaboration and principal belief in the design philosophy ‘fitness for purpose’ was instrumental in shaping London Transport’s corporate brand.  The influence that Holden’s architecture had on the suburbs that developed as a result of new stations being built, along with his broader impact on station architecture will also be explored.