‘coal drops yard’, a major shopping district in london designed by heatherwick studio, has opened the public. the project, whose construction begun in early 2016, breaths new life into a pair of elongated victorian coal drops which, over the years, had become partly derelict, acquiring various uses before partial abandonment in the 1990s. the two heritage rail buildings in kings cross have now been reinvented as a new shopping district with close to 60 units, alongside new restaurants, bars, and cafés.

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
‘coal drops yard’ is located in kings cross, london
image © luke hayes | main image © hufton+crow

 

 

as a long-time resident of the area, heatherwick studio has developed a design that celebrates the specific texture and history of the victorian industrial buildings while creating 100,000 square feet of retail and public space. the two cast-iron and brick structures have been transformed through the extension of the inner gabled roofs of the warehouses to link the two viaducts and define the yard, as well as creating fluid patterns of circulation.

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
the flowing roofs, rise up and stretch towards each other until they touch
image © luke hayes

 

 

supported by a new, highly technical freestanding structure, the flowing roofs rise up and stretch towards each other until they touch, forming an entirely new upper storey, a large covered outdoor space, and a central focus for the entire site. coal drops yard is designed with entrances at both ends of the site, as well as along the adjacent street — a gesture which will allow it to become a distinctive public space, contributing to the wider transformation of the area.

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
the joining of the structures results in an entirely new upper storey
image © luke hayes

 

 

‘it has been a huge privilege working on coal drops yard, not only because it’s the studio’s first major building completed in london, but also because it is in king’s cross, where my studio and I have been based for the last 17 years,’ notes thomas heatherwick. ‘these amazing victorian structures were never originally built to be inhabited by hundreds of people, but instead formed part of the sealed-off infrastructure of london. after serving so many varied uses throughout the years, we’ve been excited by the opportunity to use our design thinking to finally open up the site, create new spaces and allow everyone to experience these rich and characterful buildings.’

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
a large covered outdoor space has also been created
image © luke hayes

 

 

the project, which was commissioned by king’s cross central limited partnership in 2014, is heatherwick studio’s first major building in london and is one of several large-scale developments in the capital that the firm is currently working on. ‘our challenge was to radically remodel this victorian infrastructure to meet the needs of a modern urban development without losing what made them special,’ explains lisa finlay, group leader at heatherwick studio, ‘to do this, we focused on understanding their original function and how they were adapted over time so we could appreciate how best to preserve and reuse the existing fabric, whilst also introducing new elements. one of which is an entirely free-standing new structure threaded through the historic buildings, from which a spectacular new third level is suspended.’

 

see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
the design celebrates the texture and history of the industrial buildings
image © luke hayes


the two structures have been transformed through the extension of the inner gabled roofs
image © luke hayes

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
the project is is heatherwick studio’s first major completed building in london
image © hufton+crow

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
the new shopping district comprises close to 60 units
image © hufton+crow

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
new restaurants, bars, and cafés also form part of the development
image © hufton+crow

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
an interior view of the space where the two volumes meet
image © hufton+crow


materials with warmer tones have been used internally
image © hufton+crow

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
there are entrances at both ends of the site
image © luke hayes

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
the buildings retain their industrial aesthetic
image © hufton+crow

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
the dramatic roof canopy hovers overhead
image © hufton+crow

heatherwick studio coal drops yard
the project was originally commissioned in 2014
image © hufton+crow


see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here
image © luke hayes

 

 

project info:

 

architects: heatherwick studio
founder: thomas heatherwick
group leader: lisa finlay
project leader: tamsin green
project team: jordan bailiff, einar blixhavn, erich breuer, darragh casey, jennifer chen, dani rossello diez, ben dudek, andrew edwards, alex flood, daniel haigh, phil hall-patch, steven howson, sonila kadillari, michael kloihofer, nilufer kocabas, ivan linares quero, elli liverakou, freddie lomas, jose marquez, mira naran, ian ng, hannah parker, monika patel, luke plumbley, jeff powers, thomas randall-page, emmanouil rentopolous, angel tenorio, takashi tsurumaki, pablo zamorano

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