Architecture, Landscape

Photographing The Vast New Tunnels Underneath London

Image © Simon Norfolk, courtesy of INSTITUTE

It's cost the taxpayer £15 billion, it stretches for 26 miles, and it has unearthed artefacts from eight thousand years of London's history. The British photographer Simon Norfolk, on commission for National Geographic Magazine, went 40 meters beneath the streets of London to photograph Crossrail.

London has, for the past seven years, been a building site. But, directly under the streets you walk, even underneath the underground trains you squeeze onto on the way to work, exists on the biggest infrastructure projects ever created.

Everyday, for the entirely of this decade, a full 40 metres below the streets of London, scores of archaeologists and engineers have worked to create the transport network, which is scheduled to open September 2018.

In the process, more than 10,000 objects – from more than 8,000 years of the capital’s history –  have been unearthed, a selection of which have been donated to the Museum of London for safekeeping.

National Geographic Magazine British photographer Simon Norfolk underground to photograph the remarkable architectural quality of the huge new tunnels, and the

“For two thousand years, London has buried evidence of itself in archaeological layers which are continually being discovered beneath the growing city’s streets,” Norfolk says.

The Museum of London has the world’s largest collection of artefacts. “Given permission to select from any of these five million objects I wanted to return them to the streets where they were found,” he says. “A kind of unearthing.”

Inspired by the new Crossrail, Norfolk “wanted to portray the city’s wide character, but also lift up the layers of history that lie beneath the pavements.”

“The street becomes the museum gallery and the objects I chose become an arc back across two millennia.”

See more of Simon’s images here.