Gasholder competion at King’s Cross set to fire up designers

Posted: Tuesday 9th June 2009

  • Open design competition launched for listed Victorian gasholder at King’s Cross.
  • Ambition is to create one of a kind, multi-use public space.
  • King’s Cross allocates £2.5million for delivery of the successful design.
  • Deadline for competition registration 17 July, deadline for design submissions 7 August.

An adventure playground, a performance space, a picnic-area or perhaps even a roller-skating rink – any of these could end up being created inside the listed Victorian Gasholder No. 8 at King’s Cross as a result of a national open design competition launched today.

Intended to be a destination and landmark for King’s Cross and an amenity for local communities, the partners delivering King’s Cross are inviting UK based designers to come up with a use for this unique space. This is the first time a competition of this kind has been run in the UK.

The partners – Argent, London & Continental Railways and DHL Supply Chain – are keen to attract innovative and ambitious ideas and are therefore inviting entries from multi-disciplinary design teams. Concepts beyond traditional architectural and landscape disciplines are being encouraged, including play and culture. An overall construction budget of £2.5million has been allocated to the project.

Roger Madelin, Joint Chief Executive of Argent, the Asset and Development Manager of King’s Cross said:

“We have always said that the 19th Century gasholders need to form an integral part of the 21st Century vision for King’s Cross. They are already symbolic of the area and are magnificent examples of the rich industrial history of King’s Cross.

Retaining a heritage structure doesn’t necessarily equate to sticking to traditional ideas. Our ingenious housing plans for the triplet and now this competition for Gasholder No. 8 show how the possibilities are endless. From the dancing water fountains in Granary Square to whatever ends up in Gasholder No. 8, King’s Cross is set to be an amazing new part of central London, where everything is surprising and mediocrity will be outlawed.”

The four gasholders at King’s Cross, the Gasholder Triplet and Gasholder No. 8, will be moving off site for refurbishment before being re-erected in permanent locations on the site as the scheme develops. The partners are keen to launch the competition as part of the emerging public space and amenity strategy for King’s Cross and to provide certainty about the future of the well-recognised heritage structures.

Originally constructed in the 1850s, the distinctive 25m high circular guide frame structure, complete with the original telescopic wrought iron bell and brick tank below ground level, is a Grade II listed structure which currently stands to the south of the Regent’s Canal. Disused since 2001, Gasholder No. 8 is to be dismantled from its present location, refurbished and re-erected to the north of the canal and will eventually sit next to the three other gasholders – the Triplet – which will house apartments, a possible top floor restaurant and ground floor retail.

Design teams entering the competition must be led by a practising, registered architect or landscape architect with a UK office. Designers can register their interest in the competition via the King’s Cross website from 22 June to Friday 17 July. Entries can be submitted until the deadline of Friday 7 August.

Submissions will be judged by a panel including partners of King’s Cross, and a small number of entries will be invited to develop ideas further in a second stage of the competition. The overall winner is expected to be notified in October 2009.

The programme for the re-erection of Gasholder No. 8 is yet to be confirmed, as it has to be considered as part of the wider King’s Cross development programme. It is likely that following the completion of the competition, full concept design work with the winning team will commence in 2011. Listed Building Consent and detailed planning consent will be required for the Gasholder No. 8 scheme.

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