Designed by Heatherwick Studio, Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross, London is set to open to the public on Friday 26 October 2018. Long-time residents of King’s Cross, Heatherwick Studio has reinvented two heritage rail buildings from the 1850s as a major new shopping district and public space.
In 2014 the studio was commissioned by King’s Cross Limited Central Partnership to radically rethink the problematic site. The pair of elongated Victorian coal drops was built to receive coal from northern England for distribution around London by barge and cart. But over the years the ornate cast-iron and brick structures had become partially derelict, serving light industry, warehousing and nightclubs before partial abandonment in the 1990s.
The challenge was to transform the dilapidated buildings and long, angular site into a lively retail precinct where the public could gather and circulate. The design extends the inner gabled roofs of the warehouses to link the two viaducts and define the yard, as well as creating fluid patterns of circulation. The flowing roofs, supported by an entirely new freestanding structure interlaced within the heritage fabric, rise up and stretch towards each other until they touch. This forms an entirely new floating upper storey, a large covered outdoor space and a central focus for the entire
The studio’s design celebrates the specific texture and history of the Victorian industrial buildings while creating 100,000 sqft of new public space, including retail and dining destinations. The 55 units vary in size, accommodating a wide range of established and emerging brands, alongside new restaurants, bars and cafes.
With entrances at both ends of the site and scattered along Stable Street, the yard will become a new permeable and distinctive public space, contributing to the wider transformation of King’s Cross as a vibrant place to live, work, relax and study.
Thomas Heatherwick, Founder of Heatherwick Studio:
“My studio has been based in King’s Cross for over 17 years, so it’s been an enormous privilege to reinvent such a locally significant site. These extraordinary buildings were first built in 1850 and have lived an unusually rich past, first serving as infrastructure, then warehousing and offices. To most people, they are famous for having hosted nightclubs for over a decade. We believed there was an opportunity to celebrate the heritage of the existing structures rather than destroy them. As the opening approaches, we’re all looking forward to seeing how Coal Drops Yard can not only serve as an unusual place for shopping and eating but also become a destination in its own right; a special new space that the public can make their own“.
Tamsin Green, Project Leader at Heatherwick Studio:
“It has been a great challenge to transform these historic Victorian structures from their former industrial use into a place that is fully publicly accessible for the first time. The integration of the new curved precision engineered elements into the historic context has posed many challenges to the team, necessitating a rigorous and flexible approach to design development and coordination.We owe a great deal to our collaborators with whom we’ve worked so closely over the last four years. We look forward to celebrating with them as well as the public once Coal Drops Yard opens in October“.
Led by King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP), construction began on the project in early 2016.
Studio Project Credits
Design Director: Thomas Heatherwick
Group Leader: Lisa Finlay
Project Leader: Tamsin Green
Project team: Jordan Bailiff, Einar Blixhavn, Erich Breuer, Darragh Casey, Jennifer Chen, Dani Rossello Diez, Ben Dudek, Andrew Edwards, Alex Flood, Daniel Haigh, Phil Hall-Patch, Steven Howson, Sonila Kadillari, Michael Kloihofer, Nilufer Kocabas, Ivan Linares Quero, Elli Liverakou, Freddie Lomas, Jose Marquez, Mira Naran, Ian Ng, Hannah Parker, Monika Patel, Luke Plumbley, Jeff Powers, Thomas Randall-Page, Emmanouil Rentopolous, Angel Tenorio, Takashi Tsurumaki, Pablo Zamorano
News courtesy of Heatherwick Studio