Kings Cross Square
Designed by architects Stanton Williams, London’s newest public realm, King’s Cross Square, is the final phase of Network Rail’s £550m redevelopment of King’s Cross Station. The project was completed with the revealing of the original station facade and the opening of the 75,000 sq ft King’s Cross Square in front of the station.
The square is big enough to accommodate Big Ben clock tower laid down lengthways and offers rail users, local people and those now moving to work and study in the area a brand new open space as well as improved entrances to the London Underground, an area dedicated to public art, and a stunning lighting scheme to highlight the area’s architectural features.
The 75,000 sq ft public space is the final part of the £550m redevelopment of King’s Cross station to be completed and follows the renovation of the original station building and its platforms and the construction of the spectacular new western concourse, which opened to passengers in March 2012. The demolition of the unloved 1970s concourse and the creation of King’s Cross Square in its place means the Grade 1 listed station’s full historic façade can be seen in all its glory for the first time for 150 years.
- The final phase of the redevelopment was the creation of a 75,000 sq ft square in front of the station paved in York stone, bringing the grandness of Europe’s city railway stations to the heart of London.
- The square has granite benches, stunning lighting, trees and an area dedicated to art. The two Underground entrances in the square are being upgraded; a glass canopy provides covered access from the station.
- The new 75,000 sq ft space will provide passengers and visitors to the area with stunning views of the original station façade for the first time in more than 150 years. It will also provide access to the mainline station, new improved entrances to London Underground and an area dedicated to public art.
- King’s Cross Square has been designed to manage up to 140,000 commuters, visitors and residents each day and a new Southern Facade canopy will provide passengers with an extra covered area beyond the original station structure.
- The new pristine and glamorous area, paved in a striking pattern of alternating stripes of beautiful Chinese black crystal granite, Crosland Hill York stone and SPI white granite, provides around 7,000 square metres of public space. It has become the nexus for the regeneration of the entire area which includes the transformation of historic train sheds, the restoration of important listed properties and the creation of new commercial, retail and leisure space.
- The new public plaza boosts a dynamic aesthetic through the geometry of the stone work. The perimeters of the plaza are delineated using the York stone, with the white and black granite creating the eye-catching pattern.
- All the external cladding within the square including complicated curved structures such as the ‘blue egg’, an imposing ventilation shaft for the northern line. The cladding takes the form of graceful stone ‘fins’ of black crystal granite, which compliments the stone benches and planters also supplied and installed by Szerelmey.
“Today we mark the coronation of King’s Cross, and finally give the new-look station and surrounding area the entrance they deserve. The investment into the station’s redevelopment has been a catalyst for more than £2.2bn of private investment to the area, an area that is swiftly becoming one of our capitals’ most vibrant and thriving places to be.” – David Higgins, Network Rail chief executive
“Of all the welcome changes at King’s Cross, it is the square which will enjoy the highest profile and leave the biggest impact on the capital’s public realm. The space completes the station’s restoration and provides the first opportunity in well over a century to view the sober muscularity of Lewis Cubitt’s fine 1852 facade in an uncluttered state.” – Ike Ijeh, Building
About Kings Cross Project:
King’s Cross is a mixed-use, urban regeneration project in central London that is also a major transport hub for the city. Located on the site of former rail and industrial facilities, the 67-acre (27 ha) redevelopment is ongoing and involves restoration of historic buildings as well as new construction, with the entire plan organised around internal streets and 26 acres (10.5 ha) of open space to form a new public realm for the area. Principal uses include 3.4 million square feet (316,000 sq m) of office space, 2,000 residential units, 500,000 square feet (46,400 sq m) of retail and leisure space, a hotel, and educational facilities. The site is served directly by six London Underground lines, two national mainline train stations, and an international high-speed rail connecting to Paris.
Stanton Williams Architects:
In April 2010, Stanton Williams were announced as the winners of a competition for the design of a new 7000m2 square to the front of King’s Cross Station, as part of the King’s Cross Redevelopment Programme.
The creation of the new King’s Cross Square presents a series of exciting urban challenges. On the one hand the Square forms a focal point at the heart of a district which, following decades of neglect, is currently being injected with a new energy through a range of major urban and transport projects. There is therefore a unique opportunity to transform this neglected site into a new public space.
On the other hand the space also functions as a vital part of the major transport interchange at King’s Cross/St Pancras.
Beneath the Square is a complex of London Underground structures which manifest themselves at ground level as entrance stairs, technical equipment and vent shafts. The square itself is also effectively required to act as an arrivals concourse area for King’s Cross station.
The design responds to these multiple challenges by creating a number of distinct spatial zones that are defined by landscaping elements that incorporate the London Underground structures. The new Square provides an orientation and meeting space and two tree shaded sitting areas. The landscaping expresses the space in bands of dark and light granite that visually link the square to Cubitt’s 1852 station facade now fully revealed for the first time.
Project name: Kings Cross Square
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 51.530689, -0.123621
Type: Public Space, City Space, Square
Project Area: 7,000 sqm (75,000 sq.ft)
Cost: £6 million
Completion Year: September 2013
Client / Owner / Developer: Network Rail
Landscape Architects: Stanton Williams Architects – 36 Graham Street, London N1 8GJ, United Kingdom
Project Manager: Network Rail
Structural Engineer: Arup
Services Engineer: Arup
Civil Engineer: Arup
Lighting Consultant: Studio Fractal
Arboricultural Consultant: BHSLA
Contractor: J Murphy & Sons
Visualisations: Hayes Davidson
Text Description: © Courtesy of Stanton Williams Architects, arup, Network Rail, Szerelmey
Images: © Stanton Williams Architects, Hufton + Crow, Will Scott Photograhpy, flickr-Iqbal Aalam, flickr-plcd1