King's Cross to get Heatherwick-designed retail heart
Coal Drops Yard, which is situated next to Regent’s Canal, the Gasholders apartments and Granary Square, will offer 65 shops and restaurants when it opens in 2018. To be designed by Heatherwick Studios, the new development will also include a central public space.
First built in 1850, the historic coal drop buildings were used until 1882 as a place to receive and store coal from the north of England, and were subsequently mainly used for warehousing. From the 1980s they housed nightclubs, offices and light industry.
The design is understood to include a bold re-use of the historic buildings with contemporary architecture. Over a two-year restoration and build process, Londoners will see the existing Victorian buildings – the East and West Coal Drops and Wharf Road Arches – refurbished and re-purposed.
Thomas Heatherwick, founder and principal of Heatherwick Studio, said: “These two historic structures were never originally designed for people to circulate through and by themselves would have never made a successful retail destination if we did nothing more than clean them and fill them with shops; the distance between them being too great to have any social chemistry with each other and only two stories of activity would not create enough busy-ness and vitality. So rather than adding an entirely foreign new structure to connect the old buildings, we chose simply to bend and stitch the two roofs together, forming another level of activity underneath, and framing and weather-protecting a dynamic new public space for the city.”
Heatherwick Studio’s previous projects include the new Routemaster bus for London, the restoration of a historic paper mill for Bombay Sapphire and the conversion of a disused grain silo into a new museum in South Africa.
Morwenna Hall, senior projects director, Argent (King’s Cross), said: “Coal Drops Yard has been designed to be a shopping experience unlike any other. The design by Heatherwick Studio is a considered response to the important Victorian industrial buildings from the 1850s; in fact, the ability for future visitors to the Coal Drops Yard to appreciate the history and various functions of these buildings has been fundamental to the design process.”
The project is being led by King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership with construction due to start in early 2016 and complete in autumn 2018.
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