King’s Cross continues to demonstrate what the best design-focused urban regeneration can achieve. With The Granary housing Central Saint Martin’s at its heart, expansive and interesting public spaces and a blend of new buildings by the best architects alongside refurbishments such as Thomas Heatherwick’s Coal Drops Yards, King’s Cross has set a standard which others should follow. The sadness is, that across the river in Vauxhall, these lessons have not been learnt as a sea of new developments have failed to create a new district with an identity and a sense of place. Perhaps the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station, once complete, will correct this situation.
As part of the London Design Festival, Design Junction arrived in King’s Cross, starting at the station whichever way you moved up towards Regent’s Canal. Above ground, Steuart Paddick’s two immense interactive men draw attention to the mental health campaign ‘Time for Change’ and communication issues to do with mental health issues, while below ground the ‘Light Tunnel’ going down to the underground station became London’s newest design gallery with displays of the 10 finalists of the Rado Star Prize UK alongside lighting installations by Haberdashery and Anglepoise.
Adding to the rich mix of things to visit were Tom Dixon’s interactive multi-sensory exhibition, Dan Pearson’s landscaping designs, the BioKnit Pavilion (loved by children) by Mudd Architects and Jane Scott, Re-Assemble’s building blocks for the 21st century and Martino Gampner’s ‘Disco Carbonara’ while many of most innovative designers from the UK and abroad were on show in Cubitt House, including the talented Jennifer Newman here in person herself whose furniture has been adopted by many of the companies moving into the King’s Cross area.
And, as you would expect in the same weekend as climate change demonstrations in London and other cities, there is a growing focus on environmental responsibility, recycling, reuse and adaptability.