What will the heart of King’s Cross Central be like?

Four major planning applications for the buildings at the heart of the King’s Cross Central site that have been submitted by Argent (Kings Cross) were open for public comment up to 1 April. Late comments may still be effective for a few more days. You can see all the documents on the Camden website.

The applications dealt with one nine-storey office building (B2) and two ten-storey office buildings (B4 and B6), with shopping or refreshment uses on the ground floor of each, along with basement detail (including delivery vehicle route and entry/exit ramp) and the public realm for the zone just north of the German Gymnasium.

Planning reference number 2010/0864/P Building B2

The main picture above shows a view from the north west, across Pancras Square, with B4 on the left. The lower-right picture shows B2 from the east with B4 on the right.  Note that building B2 has an open colonnade at street level on all 4 sides and open balconies on all floors at its southern end. The upper-right picture is a view through the gap between the German Gym and the retained bit of Stanley Buildings.

Architects: Chipperfield (very good reputation internationally).

The floor plans are efficient. There are entrances from both sides and an Underground subway entrance. There is a  photo-voltaic array over 2/3rds of the roof. The cast iron half columns will give the block an industrial look.

Planning reference number 2010/0868/P Building B4

Architects: Allies & Morrison (urban planners for whole scheme, also very good reputation within the profession).

The floor plans are efficient. There is a single entrance from Boulevard. There are shades of Sainsbury’s (R2), with a wide ramp off a narrow pavement. The roof level terraces partially planted. There are chunky gridded elevations, with reconstituted stone columns and beams and anodised aluminium windows and gold anodised reveals.

Planning reference number 2010/0870/P Building B6

The main picture gives the view across Goods Way from the north. The small (triangular) space between Goods Way and the building is named ‘Canal Square”. The street on the left is the Boulevard, running south down towards King’s Cross ticket hall and the Euston Road. B4 is beyond B6.

Architects: Porphyrios Associates (sound, reputation for being different).

The floor plans are unexceptional. There are two entrances;. There is a highly modelled facade, with an Egyptian feel,as expected from this practice; the elevations are worked up in a medley of materials, with brick panels of domestic scale, variations on bronze for column plaster, metal windows and panels, and an up-turned cap. The top three floors are interesting: the eighth has a surrounding loggia, the ninth a part terrace, and the top a half-landscaped brown roof; all in contrast to the other two blocks, with clipped tops.

Planning reference number 2010/0872/P Public Realm

A new name, ‘Turnhalle Square’. appears along with the existing working titles ‘Pancras Square’ and ‘Canal Square’. All are provisional, and not necessarily the final, names.

This deals with  spaces in and around the blocks and Pancras Square. We’ve been here before when commenting on the Boulevard; this is more of the same. The Square promised to be something slightly special, not a normal designers’ Square. Its lozenge shape is dictated by being between blocks parallel to stations and therefore skewed. Well handled the Square could become a focus for a range of ‘happenings’ – a meeting place, small market etc.

The soft surround of the Square is in contrast to the rigidity of the alignment of the three blocks to the Boulevard. A subtle shifting of these in relation to the Station could improve matters; the facades of the blocks differ significantly, and a shift in their alignment to each other would heighten this contrast.

Planning reference number 2010/0862/P Basement

Engineers: Arup

This sets out an underground ring road serving the 7 blocks around Pancras Square. It is  an exemplary piece of linked planning. The single access is from Pancras Road, takes large lorries, provides a minimal amount of parking (one or two disabled places for each block) and includes a subway to the Underground station.

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