Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Francesca Rausa

MA work

Queering Crossrail

Crossrail, or the Elizabeth line, is a new 73 mile railway line in England. The £15.4 billion infrastructure serves not only commuters but also finance flows: Crossrail will increase London’s transport capacity by 10% and surrounding property values by more than 30%. It is currently delayed by two or three years. It is a representation of normalisation and the efficiency of the capitalistic system. The emblem of a patriarchal masculine power which is shaped to encompass the heteronormative city as if it lacks nothing.  

In the last ten years more than half of LGBTQ+ dedicated spaces in London closed, due to increasing rents and land prices. According to research from the UCL Urban Laboratory, 21% of the closures were related to infrastructural developments. Women, BAME and QTIPOC were the most affected.

The project aims at a strategic approach to queering Crossrail development, exploiting the delay of many construction sites to reinstate the possibility of a different expression of identity and sexuality. In London, queer was recognised as marketable, normalised and modified to be acceptable by a susceptible straight public. Homonormativity excludes forms of undesirable sexualities from the public space, limiting the queer scenery to gentrified neighbourhoods and consumption spaces.

The chosen site is Whitechapel, one of the new stations in East London, with a particular focus on one of the main construction sites. The intervention aims at creating a network with the surrounding facilities, identifying spatial conditions to allow the LGBTQ+ community to enter and appropriate the space, re-adapting a series of elements to a different function, creating walkways and refuges, and building a performance space inside the existing envelope of the storage warehouse.

The architectural tools make use of stage design techniques and the mixing of technical construction elements to speculate on the idea of legitimacy and permanence, building a parallel between the body and the city, fluid, in continuous reconstruction and not defined by an external entity. The reassembly of dry mortar tanks, drum store interceptors, water tanks, metal meshes and scaffolding, connects architecture and the art of Drag.


  • MA Degree


    School of Architecture


    MA Architecture, 2019

  • Degrees

  • BSc Architectural Design, Politecnico di Milano, 2017
  • Experience

  • Architectural assistant, Progettomedia, Milan, 2015-16; Internship in Heritage Planning and Architecture, Visby, 2016-17; Architectural assistant, OR Consulting Engineers Ltd, London, 2018-19
  • Awards

  • 4th Year RIBA West London Student Award