Strong Innovation and Creativity in Design Will Keep Britain Rooted on Global Radar

15/10/2013 11:47 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

St Pancras International, a vast and iconic train station for one million visitors a week, is an emblem of British innovation in design - both past and present. Voted the UK's favourite station for seven years running, and the station which provides visitors from Europe arriving by train with their first glimpse of what Britain is all about. We challenge and stimulate our visitors with modern ideas, whilst proudly acknowledging our history.

Just as our statue of Sir John Betjeman nods to the architecturally significant past and his fight to save the station, we also need to look forwards. We believe that has been a component of much innovation and creativity in design in Britain over the centuries - respect for and enjoyment of the legacies of the past, combined with a belief in the power of innovation and creativity in design.

2012 asserted - for anyone who wasn't already sure - that both London and the wider regions of the UK are vibrant, creative and innovative hubs. Visit Britain has ably coined the line 'Britain is Great' - an excellent descriptor.

Never underestimate the power of our physical surroundings. We see every day at St Pancras that people look up and are inspired by the architecture and the modern art we have hanging from our roof in our Terrace Wires series. This month, we have announced the second artist in that series: David Batchelor with his piece Chromolocomotion. Both for David and his predecessors, Lucy + Jorge Orta, the architecture (which creates the light and space for the Terrace Wires) has proved an inspiration using modern materials juxtaposed against the 19th Century backdrop. They've worked with the themes of travel, light, history and modernity.

Those themes are echoed in other Great British modern designs such as Thomas Heatherwick's re-design of the London Routemaster. Heatherwick has said publicly that his team wanted to create an interior that felt calm and coordinated and of course the exterior is reminiscent of the first design Routemaster design of the mid 20th Century - but not dominated by it.

St Pancras is at the heart of a huge redevelopment area and here too the balance of the old and the new is very clear - we have retained the British Library whilst attracting a new approach to knowledge management with the Google HQ. The Francis Crick Institute brings the best in the world of scientific research in a brand new building whilst the University of the Arts London leads the way to the future of artistic development based in a refurbished railway shed of the 19th Century.

Chromolocomotion, which will hang above the Grand Terrace at St Pancras from April next year, will express Batchelor's love of light and bold colour. Using brightly coloured glass shards, the new installation will create an explosion of colour over the Grand Terrace. Reminiscent of stained glass, reflecting the sea of light from the Barlow Shed roof, Batchelor has harked back to the station as a cathedral for travel.

From the success of the Cloud: Meteoros, Terrace Wires is one of the main public art spaces and a tourist destination for visitors to London. Batchelor told us he took his inspiration from the colours within the station, its structure and the intricate steel and glass canopy.

Britain is Great because, in large part, we have found an enduring balance between the ancient and the modern. London, let's keep our own eyes, and the eyes of the globe, firmly peeled on what happens here.