London Fusion and the Royal College of Art granted Urben a Design Innovation Award to support a case study into the creative and resourceful re-design of otherwise wasted urban spaces below the surface of London, specifically grout shafts no longer required after construction of the Crossrail transport infrastructure project.
The grout shafts are dotted throughout central London and were used to mitigate the effects of subsidence on buildings along the route of Crossrail - a major new underground rail service that stretches 118 km across London. A by product of building the shafts was the creation of new spaces in the heart of a dense and dynamic city. Spaces that although relatively narrow, are the equivalent depth of a six storey building, structurally sound and have already benefited from investment of materials, labour and technical expertise. Urben saw a unique opportunity to achieve higher and better uses for some of these shafts than simply backfilling them with concrete when no longer required for construction.