Gasholder Park, a tranquil new green space in the heart of King’s Cross, opens today for the public to enjoy. A circular lawn on the side of the Regent’s Canal, the park sits inside the carefully restored guide frame of a Grade II Victorian gasholder, Gasholder No. 8, with a contemporary steel canopy encircling the edge, in a beautiful juxtaposition of old and new.
Constructed in the 1850s, Gasholder No. 8 once formed part of the largest gas works in London, and was a familiar landmark until it was decommissioned in 2000. The fragile 25 metre-high circular guide frame, which has an internal diameter of 40 metres, was painstakingly dismantled from its old location, where Pancras Square is now, in 2011. It was then refurbished by Shepley Engineers, a specialist restorer based in Yorkshire, before being reerected in 2013 its new home, next to schools and apartments in the Plimsoll Building and the triplet of Gasholders, also apartments, being built beside the Regent’s Canal.
Within the cast-iron guide frame, London-based practice Bell Phillips Architects has added a 30 metre-diameter polished stainless steel canopy that forms a continuous colonnade around a wide grass area overlooking the canal: a unique venue for events, displays and celebrations, or for relaxation and play.
Alongside the central area, Dan Pearson Studio has designed new planting around the frame. The planting offers colour, texture, sensory stimulation and seasonal variation within and beyond the space. Dan Pearson Studio has also been responsible for planting schemes across the wider King’s Cross redevelopment area, bringing a cohesive yet varied approach to the area’s public realm.
Three other historic gasholders have been similarly dismantled and are being rebuilt next to Gasholder Park, where they are being re-used as part of an apartment development designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects.
Bell Phillips Architects won a design competition to design Gasholder Park in 2009. Hari Phillips, partner at Bell Phillips Architects said:
“Gasholder Park is a fantastic project which combines the industrial heritage of King’s Cross with contemporary architecture to create a unique place. To design a new use for such a well-known London landmark was both a daunting responsibility and an unmissable opportunity. We have hugely enjoyed watching Gasholder Park take shape, and we hope that it will become a much-loved public space as King’s Cross continues to emerge as one of London’s most interesting new quarters.”
Anthony Peter, Project Director at Argent, says, “It’s an unusual and vast space, with a character best appreciated by standing in the middle of the lawn, looking up at the gasholder frames. The park is now open all day, every day, to everyone, and we are looking forward to seeing it used by the primary school children from the neighbouring King’s Cross Academy. It has been one of the most complex and challenging projects to deliver at King’s Cross to date, and very satisfying to see completed.”