A little behind the pack, I finally made my way over to the recently opened Western concourse of King’s Cross station this past weekend. For those of you who have also yet to make it there, the Western concourse is the first major component of the much larger King’s Cross regeneration project (£2 billion across a 67-acre area right in central London!) to open up. The £500 million concourse comes from architects John McAslan + Partners led by, in my opinion, the brilliant Hiro Aso. Hiro Aso and his team have brought together elements of reuse, restoration and new-build to create a building fitting King’s Cross’s role as the modern gateway to London.
The design of the concourse is itself reminiscent of the wrought iron arches seen in more traditional train stations. John McAslan + Partners have, however, brought this idea into the 21st century by creating the longest single span structure in Europe in the form of a semi-circular vaulted roof. The steel roof arches out of a centre tree like structure, branching out in graceful arches over the entire length of the concourse, only coming down at the perimeters. The team, with the help of engineering firm Arup, have created an unobstructed grand atrium, a space that is modern and innovative in its design as it seamlessly hugs up against the side of the 1852 Grade 1 listed portion of the train station.
What I liked most about the new development though was that the new design has very clearly tried to enhance the functionality of the train station. Unlike St. Pancreas station next door (which don’t get me wrong, I also quite like) which has tried to double as a lounge/shopping centre, the new King’s Cross concourse doesn’t invite you to linger, but provides an attractive stop over in and out of the city. Now I’m excited to see how the rest of the King’s Cross regeneration project pans out!