Highbury Substation


The client

As part of a far-reaching, seven-year project to rewire London via underground tunnels to meet increasing demand for electricity in the City, National Grid needed to construct a new substation on Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park.

The brief

National Grid needed an innovative solution to ensure the substation to be installed on Seven Sisters Road did not become a drab eyesore for residents. With a four-metre high back wall it would have been easy for the structure to detract from the environment without creative thinking.

The brief for Townscape Products was to utilise its innovative new product – printed precast concrete – to offer a creative solution. A solution that would ensure the substation façade was transformed from concrete wall to visually striking artwork.

This would allow concrete to be used, keeping costs manageable, while also ensuring that concerns over aesthetics were addressed effectively.

The installation

In response to National Grid’s requirement for an artistic façade to be introduced to the substation wall facing residents on Heather Close, Townscape installed ten printed precast concrete panels to serve as dummy windows for the substation.

Sporting an engaging pebble effect, produced by designer Tony Marwick of Markwick Architects, the panels provided an interesting architectural feature to the substation.

The innovative casting process used in the creation of printed precast concrete allowed for the architect to enjoy free rein over design. Once complete, the design artwork was transferred onto a patented membrane which was then used to emboss the artwork onto the surface on the ten concrete panels specified.

The results

The result of the work completed by Townscape Products is that the four-metre high concrete wall which constitutes the side of the substation which faces residential housing has been transformed.

Rather than forcing residents to look out onto a bleak and bland concrete wall – which could have been viewed as an eyesore in the local community – the use of printed precast concrete allowed the outcome to be transformed.

The substation now plays home to the type of innovative, eye-catching design never previously associated with the use of concrete. The use of printed precast concrete panels allowed the traditional benefits of concrete, such as its cost-effective and robust nature, to be married with interesting aesthetics to allay the possibility that the substation could become an unwanted eyesore.

The insight

The use of concrete has a great number of well-known benefits – and they go a long to explaining why it is such a widely used material. Yet despite these benefits, concrete has never been viewed as particularly appealing – it’s not traditionally seen as a glamorous product. Rather, it’s functional and effective.

However, through the use of printed precast concrete these perceptions can be shifted – as demonstrated by the work Townscape Products completed for this National Grid substation. In the future, there’s no reason why concrete should be viewed as uninspiring. Printed precast concrete is changing the game.

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