Tiles are a defining feature of the London Underground, the world’s oldest metro system, yet their material origins are often unknown.
Typically, virgin resources extracted through open-pit mining are used in production. These are made from the waste produced during the construction and operation of the London Underground itself. The materials include naturally forming London clay excavated during tunnel boring and iron oxide-rich dust from train wheels grinding against steel tracks.
The tiles are cast from moulds provided by H&E Smith, a tile manufacturer that refurbishes tiles for the London Underground, and originally designed by Leslie Green, the architect behind many iconic London Underground stations in the early 20th Century. From The Underground offers a juxtaposition to the opaque origins and environmental consequences of ubiquitous materials within our built environment.
Designer: Jeffrey Miller
Project: From The Underground
Material Breakdown: Waste clay taken from tunnel boring, iron oxide produced from trains in the London Underground
Main Uses: Exterior and interior wall tiling
Key Fact: Millions of tonnes of clay is excavated from tunnelling projects in London. 2 tonnes of iron oxide waste is produced on the London Underground each month.