Mosaic Art Goes Underground
Modern glass mosaics grace interiors and exteriors of numerous commercial buildings and offices worldwide. In fact, we encounter them daily, as they increasingly adorn public spaces, enhancing and enlivening our environment.
These mosaics not only provide practical functionality but also empower architects and artists to fashion distinctive surface designs that integrate patterns, images, and original public artworks.
Surprising locations such as hallways, arches, and platforms of underground stations globally are remarkable examples of this. London's Tottenham Court Road Station hosts one of the most renowned installations.
Tottenham Court Road Station
In 1980, Eduardo Paolozzi was commissioned to create this daring artwork during a major renovation of the station. This was a bold choice as Paolozzi, a renowned and uncompromising artist with a distinctive style, insisted on creative freedom.
Covering nearly 1000m², the project harmonized with the station's architecture and character, spanning both Central and Northern Line approaches and platforms.
History Of Mosaics In Tottenham Court Road Station
Paolozzi's mosaics, completed in 1984, remained undisturbed for 25 years. In 2009, during the construction of London's new East–West rail link, the valuable mosaics faced the threat of permanent loss. Many original pieces, including those on the grand arches above escalators, suffered damage or destruction, and remnants were donated to the Edinburgh School of Art, initially with no replacement plans.
Responding to public outcry, an extensive restoration and conservation initiative launched in 2017. Despite missing pieces and limited photographic records, experts meticulously restored each tesserae on-site, matching colors and hand-cutting them to size and shape. TREND's mosaic foundry, Orsoni, proudly played a key role as a supplier.
Tottenham Court Road station, London
The Restoration Process
The mosaics had to be installed in short night shifts when the station was closed between 1am and 4am, so the final restoration took months to complete. In all, five of the Central Line panels were recreated along with some smaller patch repairs.
Recognized with awards from National Railway Heritage and the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers, this project has partially restored Paolozzi's vision to its former glory and secured its place in London's public art heritage.
This restoration, coupled with a resurgence of mosaic art in public spaces, has sparked the creation of numerous modern artworks in underground stations worldwide.
Metro Piscinola, Naples, Italy
Architect: Riccardo Freda - Photo: Dal Bosco
Taunusanlage Station, Frankfurt, Germany