Core Conversations: King's Cross Urban Transformation

Regeneration on a human scale is at the heart of property developer Argent’s vision for London’s Kings Cross

The 27-hectare mixed-use development in the center of the capital nestled against one of its busiest transit hubs – Kings Cross station. It has become a destination neighborhood whether its diners heading to granger and co or the German gymnasium, or swimmers headed to the pond or people streaming into the end of year show at world renowned art college central saint martins.

Developers, Argent have focused as much on a manifesto of good living as they have on the bottom line. They published a document called Principles for a Human City, whereby they set out 10 Principles for what they thought should be a progressive way to transform this north hub of the city. The Masterplan is the Nolly plan, its the inverse, the public realm - that is what forms the value, creating the artery of the city for people in goods and trades to flow. The buildings need to respond to that public realm and enhance it, and that it a test for any good building.

Coal Drops Yard. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

In order to invite the city into King’s Cross - Argent first prioritized the completion of its public spaces - from Granary Square with its benches and fountains, to the revamped canal-side walk and the grassy gasholder park. In total there are 10 new squares, and you can immediately see attraction of urban life in the square. From early morning people with beach towels, scooters, and dog walkers are encouraged. International names such as David Chipperfield, Stanton Williams and Thomas Hetherwick all have buildings, yet none ‘shot’. They are all very iconic buildings

Coal Drops Yard. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

As Edwin Heathcote from the FT described, the urban development at King’s Cross is “…the perfect mix of grittiness and shininess, simultaneously a symbol of London’s industrial and engineering past and the creative present.”

Michon, D., Monocle. May 2016