Glory of Gasholder No. 8 reflected in winning design

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Posted: Wednesday 18th November 2009

  • Winner of design competition revealed.
  • Winning design features magical shallow pools which reflect the majestic gasholder structure
  • Bell Phillips + Kimble’s design will create a stunning landmark and multi-use public space
  • Exhibition opens at New London Architecture to celebrate the competition

Following a five month competition, 80 submissions, and deliberations over a five-strong shortlist, a design by Bell Phillips + Kimble architects has been selected as the winner of King’s Cross’s Gasholder No. 8 design competition.

Bell Phillips + Kimble won over the judging panel with an intelligent interpretation of the brief, combining an events space, playable features and imaginative public space.

The design makes the most of the fantastic heritage structure and the location of the gasholder, which will be next to the canal. Bell Phillips + Kimble’s design creates genuinely usable spaces inside the gasholder structure – a water pool and garden, flexible internal spaces and a natural amphitheatre for informal performances and relaxing.

By day, the large shallow pool will be a play space for children, and by night, a more tranquil public space. Beneath a ‘roof-top’ pool is an internal events space with a series of glass lenses in the ceiling lighting the space below and offering dramatic views of the gasholder structure above.

The panel were particularly impressed with how Bell Phillips + Kimble’s design, with changing water levels as a result of the different uses, echoes the rise and fall of the gasholder when it was still in use. They also felt that leaving the gasholder structure open was a good design decision – with the design celebrating the structure itself and taking account of surrounding uses.

Bridget Evans, Project Director at King’s Cross, says:

“This has been a fascinating process, with many truly inspirational ideas put forward. We asked for big ideas and that is certainly what we got. The winning design works on several levels for King’s Cross – it will be accessible with multiple uses, it’s fun, has style and it will create an enchanting space for local communities to enjoy.”

Hari Phillips, from Bell Phillips + Kimble said:

“The combination of the gasholder structure and its location overlooking the Regent’s Canal sets the scene for a truly fantastic project. We are absolutely thrilled to have won and are looking forward to working with the King’s Cross partners and other stakeholders to produce an outstanding space for London.”

To mark the culmination of the design competition, an exhibition is opening at New London Architecture on Monday 16 November and will run for three weeks.

The exhibition, ’80 for No. 8′, features all of the 80 submissions received for the competition with a special focus on the shortlist. The judging panel were struck by the quality and variety of imaginative ideas submitted by all of the teams.

The competition looked for a concept that would provide a destination and a landmark for King’s Cross and an amenity for local communities. The King’s Cross partners were keen to attract innovative and ambitious ideas and multi-disciplinary design teams were encouraged to bring forward ideas beyond the traditional architect and landscape disciplines, including play and culture.

Bell Phillips + Kimble were one of five design teams shortlisted to progress to the second stage of the competition in September. The teams were asked to develop their initial design concepts in more detail and consider feasibility of the designs. The other teams on the shortlist were from:

• Feix & Merlin – helter skelter slide

• Gustafson Porter – landscaped space

• Hakes Associates – events space within a reflective ball

• Loop Architecture – pavilion and landscaped area

Originally constructed in the 1850s, the distinctive 25m high circular guide frame is a Grade II listed structure which currently stands to the south of the Regent’s Canal. Disused since 2001, Gasholder No. 8 will 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. This group of gasholders, situated next to the canal, will echo the original collection of gasholders that made up the Imperial Gas Works located at King’s Cross.

The culmination of the competition brings the first stage of this design project to a close. It is likely that 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. A construction budget of £2.5m has been allocated for the Gasholder No. 8 design project, with the removal, refurbishment and re-erection of the gasholder to be funded separately.

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