Coal Drops Yard

Heatherwick Studio, London, 2018

 

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The project consists of two elongated Victorian warehouses, converted into a high-end shopping centre and connected via a dramatic curved roof 

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  • The project consists of two elongated Victorian warehouses, converted into a high-end shopping centre and connected via a dramatic curved roof    
  • The inward-facing archways of the two buildings provide retail units of approximately 100-200m2    
  • The grand formal statement of the project is the ‘peel’ of the roof    
  • The ‘peel’ establishes a strong visual connection between the parallel structures    
  • The horizontal truss that holds up the ‘peel’ itself also carries the flagship retail unit, a 1,864m2 space with structural glazing on both sides and a generous skylight    
  • The glazing grid is approximately 2m, with the angles of the glass panels changing along the elevation to follow the curved geometry of the slate roof above    
  • The proportions of the glass were closely co-ordinated with the structural design to allow the glazing to weave around the structural hangers supporting the floor slab    
  • The final design uses a tied A-frame spanning between the buildings and inclined arches within the ‘peeling’ sections of roof    
  • The roof steelwork was fabricated to a preset geometry to compensate for the predicted deformations under load    
  • The team carried out detailed assessments of the historic buildings to establish their load-carrying capacity, ensuring many of the floor structures and existing timber and iron roof trusses could be repaired, strengthened and reused    
  • Location plan    
  • Level 0 plan    
  • Mezzanine level plan    
  • Upper level plan    
  • Viaduct level plan    
  • Upper viaduct level plan    
  • Roof plan    
  • Section AA    
  • Section BB    
  • North elevation    
  • South elevation    
  • East elevation    
  • West elevation    
  • Under construction    
  • Detail of upper level serrated glazing    

Heatherwick Studio’s Coal Drops Yard scheme in King’s Cross converts listed industrial warehouses to retail and public realm uses with a flourish.

The project consists of two elongated Victorian warehouses, converted into a high-end shopping centre and connected via a dramatic curved roof, which lifts up and away from the brick footprint to a mid-air meeting point. 

This flourish responds to the restraints imposed by the site itself; the listed coal drops warehouses sit roughly parallel, with a north-south orientation, and at the widest point there is 39m between them. This means a substantial portion of the project is taken up by open space that needed to be activated and connected to its surroundings.

The inward-facing archways of the two buildings provide retail units of approximately 100-200m2, with slight variations in shop front design, while a lower-ground section built beneath Stable Street contains a number of smaller units for pop-up stores. Here the tight scale of the street and articulated shop fronts give a more intimate feel, not dissimilar to Camden’s Stables Market in massing and materiality.

The grand formal statement of the project is the ‘peel’ of the roof, as it is referred to by project architect Tamsin Green. Designed to create a distinctive, even iconic moment, the ‘peel’ also establishes a strong visual connection between the parallel structures. Slate roof tiles, replaced by Heatherwick but sourced from the same quarry as their Victorian predecessors on the coal drops, run straight along the line of the building until they lift off and curve inwards to touch briefly in the centre before settling back in their gabled form on the north end.

Aiming to avoid unnecessary disruption to the Victorian warehouses, the peeled roof sits independently on new steel columns, which have been threaded through the brick structure and are occasionally visible in the new shop interiors. 

The horizontal truss that holds up the ‘peel’ itself also carries the flagship retail unit, a 1,864m2 space with structural glazing on both sides and a generous skylight.

The new façade to the upper level is a serrated structural glass system. By effectively folding the façade it becomes self-supporting without the need for any additional framing.

Data

  • Begun: 2016
  • Completed: Oct 2018
  • Floor area: 9,300m2
  • Sectors: Retail, Public realm
  • CO2 Emissions: 60.5kg/m2/year
  • Address: Stable Street, London, N1C 4DQ, United Kingdom

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