Niall McLaughlin Architects wins King’s Cross canopy concept design competition

Posted: Monday 7th January 2013
  • Winner of canopy concept design competition revealed
  • Niall McLaughlin Architects’ elegant winning design reflects the heritage buildings on site and will maintain the openness of Cubitt Square
  • Design to be developed further in association with design work for the Coal Drops

A design by Niall McLaughlin Architects has been chosen as the winner in a conceptual design competition for a canopy structure in the southern end of Cubitt Square, at King’s Cross. The practice was one of seven top designers invited to respond to the brief from the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership.

Cubitt Square* will lie between the Coal Drops and Cubitt Park, in the northern spine of the development, north of the Regent’s Canal. The competition was looking for a canopy, approximately 15m x 15m, which would provide a covered space for events taking place in the public space, maintain the openness of the square and respond to the context of the site.

Niall McLaughlin Architects won over the judging panel with its elegant design made from fine stainless steel rods supporting a glass roof. In its response the architects’ practice described how the design “makes reference to the rich history of the place while pointing towards its present reinvention.”

Ken Trew, from King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership, said: “We were thrilled with the response we had to our brief and the exceptional quality and thoughtfulness of the designs submitted. We were looking for a beautiful and inspiring structure for this centrally located public space and Niall McLaughlin Architects’ design was felt to best meet the brief for a light and delicate structure that responded to the geometry of the Eastern Coal Drop while allowing views through it in all directions.

“While the Coal Drops, Cubitt Square and Cubitt Park are being designed by different architects they are conceived as a whole so the canopy design had to fit in with the overall vision for this part of the 67 acre site and complement the character of the surrounding buildings.”

Niall McLaughlin, from Niall McLaughlin Architects, said: “We are delighted to have won this competition in what will become a very significant site in the city. We were competing against an exceptionally talented shortlist of architects. We look forward to working with all involved to make a success of the canopy.

“Our intention is to create an object that reads beautifully against the dark brick of the train sheds whilst echoing their inner structure. It is made from very slender rods of stainless steel creating a fragile framework. The refined detail and ephemeral character will be sympathetic with the contemporary quality envisaged for the new buildings. The transparency of the structure allows views between listed buildings and towards significant structures such as the Triplet Gas Holders.”

Cubitt Square is currently being designed by OLIN working with King’s Cross’ landscape masterplanners Townshend Landscape Architects. The aim is for work to start on the Square and Cubitt Park in 2013 and be completed by the end of 2014.

The other design teams invited to take part in the canopy competition were:

  • Amanda Levete
  • Asif Khan
  • Carmody Groarke
  • Duggan Morris
  • Ian Ritchie
  • Jamie Fobert

Niall McLaughlin Architects and the King’s Cross design team will now discuss further work to refine the canopy concept in association with the design programme for the Coal Drops. The proposed canopy lies outside of the development’s existing outline planning consent and will therefore require a separate, standalone application.

Meanwhile Niall McLaughlin Architects has designed the new homes and a garden in the sky at 1 Canal Reach. The apartments are due to be launched in Spring 2013.

* ‘Cubitt Square’ is the working name for the public space. The final name will be decided in consultation with Camden Council.

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