King’s Cross Station
The refurbishment of the Grade I Listed Western Range is a fundamental part of the overall King’s Cross redevelopment programme. The design and construction teams from Arup, John McAslan + Partners, and VINCI Construction, along with key external stakeholders English Heritage and Camden Council, have sympathetically restored the 150 year old building to reflect its heritage, meet the current operational needs of the station and its staff, and complement the new Western Concourse.
- Creating an integrated transport facility above and below ground at London’s busiest station is an enormous challenge, and the engineers have risen to this by creating a truly elegant and world class solution.
- The achievement of the new diagrid roof in the form of a dramatic half-dome structure is a testament to the skill of the structural engineers, who have managed to disguise the many technical challenges to make the structure appear to float effortlessly overhead.
King’s Cross Station, London, has become the heart and pulse of Britain’s biggest nexus of mixed-use urban regeneration. After decades of profound urban blight, the commercial and social transformation around the station has been astonishing. The gradual regeneration of the Regent Quarter, along York Way, east of the station, started the process. Now, the £2 billion King’s Cross Central scheme is creating 8 million sqft of mixed-use space in new and modernised Victorian industrial buildings to the north.
King’s Cross Station demonstrates Network Rail’s commitment to improving rail infrastructure, and our daily lives, through strategic investment. The Grade I listed 1852 station, designed by Lewis Cubitt and operated by Network Rail, is nearing the end of its decade-long £500 million modernisation by John McAslan + Partners (JMP). The building is pivotal, anchoring the junctions of Euston Road, Pancras Road, York Way, Gray’s Inn Road and Pentonville Road. The Station serves in excess of 60 million passengers a year; millions more drive or walk past it.
By 2012, the Station’s meticulously restored façade, and the forthcoming public square in front of it, will carry Cubitt’s architecture into the 21st century, creating the gateway to a unique rail travel experience – and an architecturally commanding landmark at the main approaches to King’s Cross Central and the Regent Quarter.
The modernised station’s most compelling feature is the 185 metre wide glass and steel canopy over the new western concourse, which radiuses outwards like a graceful wave over an architecturally unique mixed-use threshold to the new booking hall and gateline. It recalls the extraordinary parabolic structures designed by the Italian master, Pier Luigi Nervi, and the form of Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal in New York.
The concourse’s steel and glass structure begins its dramatic ascent next to the Station’s refurbished western range façade, flowing upwards and outwards in a fountainlike filigree of crossing parabolic trajectories. The concourse is the most strikingly innovative moment in British transport architecture for a quarter of a century, matching the impact of Stansted Airport and the Waterloo Eurostar terminal.
The retail and catering segment that sweeps around the outer edge of the concourse at mezzanine level is equally dramatic. The five million small, circular white tiles applied to prefabricated, geometrically varying surfaces made at the Dalbeattie works of Swift Horsman Ltd, will add a brilliant sense of finely crafted detail to the bulkheads and edges of the mezzanine level.
JMP’s project leaders, Hiro Aso and Simon Goode have worked closely with Arup to ensure that the structure met the ground at 17 points, without posing any structural threat to the London Underground concourse beneath it – a series of big subsurface spaces connected to St Pancras International, and serving six Underground lines. The JMP team has worked equally closely with English Heritage and 24 stakeholder groups.
And so, King’s Cross Station becomes the most visible mark of social and commercial change in an area that, only a decade ago, was edgy and synonymous with human deprivation and poverty. What a difference now: the polychromatic Nido student tower in Pentonville Road … the Gagosian Gallery in Britannia Street … the London Wildlife Trust’s Camley Street Natural Park … children playing in Coram’s Fields … sought after small terraced houses in nearby Keystone Crescent … classical music at King’s Place, where The Guardian newspaper is edited … youngsters learning how to make more of their lives at the New Horizon Youth Centre … and, now, tens of thousands of students, professionals, and householders will throng into King’s Cross Central and the Regent Quarter.
And at the centre of it all, the glistening canopy of King’s Cross Station’s western concourse, and the hurly-burly of people coming and going.
London’s King’s Cross railway station in London opened in October 1952. It is one of the terminal stations on the UK’s East Coast main line, and more than 50 million commuters use its 11 platforms each year. The station was developed in two phases and involved the construction of two railway buildings. The land acquired for the station cost £65,000, while construction cost £123,500.
Operator Network Rail announced a £500m terminal restoration project in 2005. The project was approved by Camden Council in 2007, and the first phase of construction began in 2008.
Part of the second phase of the restoration – a $250m expansion the terminal’s metro station – has been scrapped since the project began. This is because the project cost has doubled since the work began in 1999. The final cost of the whole scheme is now estimated at £650m.
The redevelopment contract for the second phase was awarded to NG Bailey in February 2010. NG Bailey will carry out the development work along with VINCI Construction and is expected to complete the project in by 2014.
History of King’s Cross station:
The development of King’s Cross dates back to December 1848. It was constructed between 1851 and 1852, replacing the then existing temporary station built at Maiden Lane. It was designed by architect Lewis Cubitt and constructed by John and William Jay. The station has been rebuilt several times with the increase in suburban traffic. A secondary railway building was also constructed. A single-storey extension of the terminal, designed by British Rail, was completed out in 1972. The façade of the station is scheduled for demolition.
The redevelopment project involves replacing the arched roof of the station, building a semi-circular concourse and demolishing the existing one-storey extension. The new concourse is designed to be three times the size of the existing concourse and will integrate shops and restaurants.
The new hall will also replace the commercial area and East Coast ticket office. The concourse will provide greater access between the terminal’s intercity and suburban sections. It will improve access to London Underground, Thameslink and Eurostar services from the nearby St Pancras station.
A third ticket hall opened in November 2009 to ease the passenger traffic and reduce waiting times. The total size of the station has been increased to from 2,000m² to 8,000m².
The roof of the station, which will be completely restored, is 105ft-wide and 800ft-long. It includes two vaults of clear arch construction. The pillars supporting the roof were initially laminated timber but later replaced with steel.
Infrastructure and facilites:
The station is in the London Borough of Camden and is next door to the British Library. Two other major stations, St Pancras and Euston are within walking distance. King’s Cross has 11 platforms; the original building houses platforms one to eight, while a second is home to the remaining three. Services from the station run to northern England and Scotland, serving major cities including Cambridge, Dundee, Leeds, Peterborough, Hull, Doncaster, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.
The station is served by six London Underground metro routes: the Hammersmith and City, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria and Circle lines. The new ticket hall has 10 new escalators, six new step-free access lifts, 300m of new tunnels linking the ticket hall to the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria line platforms. The Great Northern Hotel is adjacent to the terminal. The hotel, also designed by Lewis Cubitt, was opened in May 1854. There is a luggage storage facility opposite the station at the entrance of Euston road.
John McAslan + Partners:
The redevelopment of the Grade I listed King’s Cross Station is almost complete, with the demolition of the old concourse and construction of the new Southern Square under way. Major remodelling of the station has delivered improved passenger facilities, rationalised operational activities and significantly increased retail opportunities at the station. The practice has played a key role in the wider transformation of the King’s Cross area – infrastructure, social and commercial changes now connect the station with the substantial King’s Cross Central scheme north of the station, as well as improved interchange links with the London Underground, St. Pancras Station, Thameslink services, taxis and buses.
This enormously complex £547m redevelopment project required a series of layered interventions involving three very different areas of architectural specialism: re-use, restoration and new build. The train-shed and range buildings have been adapted and re-used, the station’s previously obscured Grade I listed façade is being precisely restored, and a new, highly expressive and visually striking Western Concourse has been designed as the centrepiece and the ‘beating heart’ of the project.
Our ambitious transformation of the station creates a remarkable dialogue between Cubitt’s 1852 station and 21st-century architecture – a quantum shift in strategic infrastructure design in the UK. The station was officially opened by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, on 19 March 2012. The multi-award winning station now provides a modern transport super-hub fit for a major capital city.
“The judges were impressed by the way the structural engineers cleverly managed to deal with the missing shell action, because the roof is only half a dome, and still achieve a slender and elegant solution. In addition to creating a well-engineered and dramatic new space under the new diagrid roof, the engineers also had to deal with the redevelopment of the existing Western Range Building which was done with admirable restraint and respect for the existing structure.” – Judges’ comment / Institute of Structural Engineers Awards
Project name: King’s Cross Station
Location: Euston Road, London, Camden, United Kingdom
Type: Terminal / Station, Adaptive Reuse / Redevelopment / Refurbishment
Project Year: 2012
Cost: £550 million
Completion Year: March 2012
Client / Owner / Developer: Network Rail
Masterplanner and Lead Architect: John McAslan + Partners – 7-9 William Road, London, NW1 3ER, United Kingdom
Sponsor: Department for Transport
Engineer: Arup, Tata, Fourways
Principle Contractor: VINCI Construction
Contractor: Vinci, Kier, Carillion, Laing O’Rourke
Local Authority: London Borough of Camden
Text Description: © Courtesy of John McAslan + Partners, railway-technology
Images: © John McAslan + Partners, Hufton + Crow, Phil Adams, John Sturrock