King's Cross Coal Drops Yard
Courtesy of Heatherwick studio / Argent

Heatherwick Studios’ plans to convert a Victorian coal yard at London’s King’s Cross into a shopping and retail destination got the go-ahead last night.

As part of the 10,000 sq m retail scheme, the two Grade-II listed Coal Drop buildings, constructed in the 1850s and 60s from brick and steel, will be converted into 65 stores and restaurants, as well as galleries and music venues.

Says Thomas Heatherwick: ‘These two historic structures were never originally designed for people to circulate through and by themselves would have never made a successful retail destination if we did nothing more than clean them and fill them with shops.’

King's Cross Coal Drops Yard
Courtesy of Heatherwick studio / Argent

‘So rather than adding an entirely foreign new structure to connect the old buildings, we chose simply to bend and stitch the two roofs together, forming another level of activity underneath, and framing and weather-protecting a dynamic new public space for the city.’

The buildings – originally designed to transfer coal from rail wagons to road carts, before later use as workshops, studios and nightclubs – will be linked by a lightweight ‘kissing’ bridge roof extension. The structure will connect the east and west viaducts across the cobbled courtyard.

Commissioned by Argent, the scheme is part of the King’s Cross Development project. Work is expected to begin early next year with Coal Drops Yard opening to the public in 2018.

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