King's Cross Visit
The team recently took a trip to see the newly completed King’s Cross Western Extension which was designed by John McAslan and Partners and which, as part of the development, showcases Cubitt’s original 1852 station.
The project is an enormously complex 500m redevelopment project has 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 stations previously obscured Grade I listed façade has been precisely restored, and a new Western Concourse has been designed as the centrepiece and hub of the project.
We as a team we generally viewed the project very well and certainly the opportunities to open up the historic fabric of the original buildings to public view have been well taken and were widely appreciated. However, in my opinion, having worked on large public buildings one can see how perhaps designs have not necessarily been fully explored or resolved in pursuit of achieving either financial or more probably in this instance programme constraints. Perhaps the building might otherwise have achieved the next level of elegance, a slightly more coherent whole or a more refined level of detailing. Insofar as architecture is a reflection of its time perhaps this is only to be deserved in a time when the masses demand bigger, better, faster and cheaper of their public projects.
The project is certainly impressive in its scale and its effectiveness in re-organising and re-orientating customer flow around this busy transport hub. Visitors for the Olympics and beyond will discover a much improved station to welcome them to London and to ease their onward journey.
Posted by: Clive Fenwick