London Life Places

the new kings cross western concourse

May 10, 2012

Kings cross is one of the busiest transport interchanges in the country.

Around 47 million people use the station every year and forecasters predict that this number will rise by 10 million with the next decade. We needed a station that aligns with the 21st century and can meet passengers demand, while honouring the station’s victorian history.

Kings cross station in 1852.

The new concourse is the first phase to redevelop kings cross station. The second and final phase completes in the autumn of 2013. This is what it’s going to look like, with a new public square that will be larger than london’s leicester square.

The original front of the station will be exposed for the first time in years, revealing the careful restoration of the station’s victorian features alongside the new development.

For now, let’s take a look at this first completed phase of this fantastic world class station. The semi-circular vaulted concourse, designed by british architects john mcaslan + partners is incredible. The steel structure envelops the space around it with it’s criss-cross pattern. It’s made out of 16 steel tree form columns that radiate from a tapered central funnel.

Eating places and shops are on offer on the ground floor and mezzanine. The whole place was buzzing when i was there taking pictures.

Here are some photos of platforms 6 & 7.

I was interested in some of the detail structures and how they form really interesting pattern shapes.

This ambitious project, which involved re-use, restoration and new build will become a new gateway to the city, just in time for the 2012 olympics.

What struck me most, except for the beauty and inspiring architecture was the enthusiasm and excitement of the staff within the different areas of the station. Speaking to some of them i discovered that they were happy about the greatly improved working conditions. Everyone was smiling and in a good mood.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ‘good design can change our world’. It makes for better products, better services, brings joy and therefore enhances our daily lifestyle.

How do you feel about good design can change our world? Any examples or anecdotes?

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  • Reply parisbreakfast May 11, 2012 at 11:00 am

    AMAZING expansive pictures!!
    just a great space!
    merci carolg

    • Reply tina May 15, 2012 at 12:48 am

      Merci Carol… sorry I’ve been absent lately. Hope you’re well.

  • Reply Theresa May 11, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Well, you’ve done it again, Tina. Really great photos. Like you, I really appreciate all the shapes and patterns. There were even some pictures that still looked like renderings to me. I’m curious if there was any public push back against taking such a historical site and adding such modern elements? I like it, but we get so much similar push back, that certain sites stand in a stale mate and nothing gets done.
    I love and appreciate good design…It can definitely be change the world. The first thing that comes to mind (though I’m sure there a better examples) is baby products. I think about the products that we now have compared to the products my mom used. Good design has definitely improved life for parents.

    • Reply tina May 15, 2012 at 12:53 am

      Not sure there were objections to the new site. Knowing the british, it’s all listed, above board and worked out with precision. I love how they’ve kept the historical bits and added the contemporary. We, in London are very proud of moving into the 21st century with our rail station. St’ Pancreas, which is the station that takes you to Paris and Brussels is adjacent so it’s all looking rather ‘posh’:)

      Exactly, that’s what I meant. Good designed products can change the way we live our lives on a daily basis. I wish more hospitals/hospices would adopt that thinking. Have a look at this:

      • Reply annie May 16, 2012 at 1:12 pm

        Planning laws in this country specify that any enhancements to listed buildings must be architectuarally (sic?) distinguishable from the original building, so that you still get a sense of what it looked like before so often they have big glass extensions.
        St Panras next door fought a very hard battle to not be demolished and escaped by the skin of its teeth so I for one would rather we adapted buildings than lose them.

        • Reply tina May 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm

          I totally agree. But I think there’s something really charming about mixing historic buildings with contemporary architecture. That’s what makes Kings Cross fascinating.
          They did an amazing job with St. Pancreas and with the Hotel, which I’m sure gave Harry Handelsmann a complete nightmare!

  • Reply Toni May 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Like most Londoners I’ve been following the transformation of Kings Cross St. and in my view they have done remarkably well bringing this historical site and modern architecture together!

    PS: did you check out platform 9 and 3/4? The child in me needs to see it.

    • Reply tina May 15, 2012 at 12:57 am

      Noooo. When I went to photograph, this guy asked me if I have seen it? Isn’t there a queue and you need to buy tickets etc etc. Must admit, eekk, am not a great HP fan, sorry:)

      I also think they’ve done a remarkable job.

  • Reply caroline trend-daily May 13, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Oh wow-I can’t wait to go see. Love the architecture-a similarity to British museum and the new bullring birmingham in a couple of the shots. Great writing and pics as ever. Architecture and space planning so much more important and a huge influence on the way people live and work than the average joe-blog realizes… Cx

    • Reply tina May 15, 2012 at 12:57 am

      Which train station do you usually come into when visiting London?

      Really, no kidding, the staff were so friendly and smiling. It was a real pleasure to be there…

  • Reply Heather @ Canal Notes May 14, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Tina, I’m impressed yet again! Your posts are always so well-researched! Full of information and beautiful pictures. I really loved this particular one as I have a thing for train stations and train travel. Perhaps it’s the American in me, appreciating the novelty of it. I never traveled by train until I came to Europe! Kings Cross Station is one of the greats, so it’s wonderful to read about the transformation. Hx

    • Reply tina May 15, 2012 at 12:59 am

      Aww, thanks. I’m so pleased you posted on our FB page coz I really got concerned. Thought it was unlike you not to turn up and let someone know… glad you’re ok. At least we got to see you on Thursday!

      We can be proud of Kings Cross, St.Pancreas, Heathrow T5 etc…. London is a cool place and finally getting into the 1st century:)

  • Reply annie May 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    i was thinking the same things Caroline, it’s remarkably similar to the british museum and the birmingham selfridges, both of which i love. I must admit I get very confused between kings cross and st pancras and always end up in the wrong one. even though i do it everyday, i still find train travel incurably romantic so the nicer our stations look, the better.

    • Reply tina May 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      I don’t travel much by train but like the fact that London, a world cosmopolitan city, is catching up. All they need now is better trains.. look at the TGV and the ICE trains. You are miles behind…

  • Reply Holly May 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Hi Tina! You know I feel the same. Design affects our behaviour and therefore, it can change our behaviour -for better or for worse.

    You are really talented at taking pictures. Yes, the content is interesting on its own, but your shots are yours. And they totally bring out the beauty in all the metal and geometry. I just love them.


    • Reply tina May 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      Oh, thanks. I thought you might like this. It’s very Mr & Mrs Grey like but Tina has weaved her bit into it?
      Thanks for the compliment! x

  • Reply Micki May 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Many thanx für this blog!
    I don’t wonder that you tell us something so interesting and innovative – and not quite unecessary to mention in an outstanding class researched
    LUV´IT! This gives a very good impression about what we could expect very soon.
    The design, so many different kinds of material, every one with a certain kind of structure tells its own story but fits together to one concept.
    Absolutely excited!
    So many things effects us all – of course design does. But isn´t it interesting, that a special design effects character A more than character B & C and the other way ´round? What can design tell me about the designer, architect, the world we live in today and now?
    Is it a mirror of our thoughts and feelings?
    No wonder that it can put me in a ceratin mood. The one i feel comfortable with, the one that makes me feel happy, the one that makes me angry or the one that provokes.

    Thank you again 🙂

    • Reply tina May 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm

      Ah, yes, one of your favourite posts. It is really breathtaking and when you next come to London I’ll give you the royal tour.
      If you want to we can go and see the Harry Potter platform. (I would ONLY do such a thing for you:)
      Glad you found this so inspiring. x

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