Shot peening in architecture: elegance meets defiance at London transport hub

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Shot peened surfaces are a stand-out design feature of London’s new Paddington train and underground station, with 1,500 sqm of precision-treated stainless steel, providing a surface that is resilient and looks great.

Company Profile

Paddington Station, also known as Paddington Underground Station or Paddington Railway Station, is a major railway and underground station in London. Paddington Train Station is situated in the north-west section of Central London, just north of Hyde Park and about 1km from Oxford Street. 

Challenges, Solution and Results

Designed for sustainability, cost-efficiency and functionality

The station design, conceived by architects Weston Williamson + Partners had to achieve the highest standards of sustainability, lifetime cost efficiency, functionality and accessibility.

A major specification challenge were the large areas of stainless steel surface that formed a key part of the design but had to meet the varying and unique demands of a busy station environment. The shade of the finish, for example, had to be finely-tuned to avoid glare, vital to prevent train drivers from being blinded by bright reflections as trains come into the busy station. In addition, surface finishes not only had to look good but also be long-lasting, scratch-resistant, vandalism-resistant, low-maintenance and cleanable.

Shot peening for architectural aesthetics and functionality

Following a consultation with experts from Wheelabrator, an innovative ceramic shot peened process was specified, to achieve a particularly high-spec, clean hard finish meeting both functional efficiency and the aesthetic criteria of the project.

Due to its prominence as part of the design, each steel section for Paddington had to have exactly the right shade and a consistent non-directional pattern. Achieving this absolutely even and consistent finish without flaws or patches was one of the main challenges, especially when considering the high volumes and large areas of stainless steel processed. This can only be achieved in automated environments with absolute process control.

Chris Pallot, Business Development Manager for Wheelabrator Impact Finishers, said: “Because the station is built for the long haul, the surface has to be perfect at the point of installation. We are one of the few shot peening experts in the world who can handle objects of this size and to this specification and deliver a precise, non-directional surface right across the sheet.”

The project was delivered between April 2012 and August 2013.