Lovers kissing at Coal Drops Yard – perhaps Thomas Heatherwick could tackle Clapham Junction

It is always astonishing to find how much space that major cities still have with areas waiting for redevelopment.  In New York, it was the old Hudson’s Yards linked into the New York Central Railroad spur which became the High Line.  In London, it was King’s Cross, again linked to old railway links and warehousing.

King’s Cross, with its railway connections north, brought the materials and raw energy in the form of coal from Scotland and north England to the heart of London to support the industrial revolution.

Originally built in 1851, the Coal Drops Yards at King’s Cross was a long 3-storey high structure into which trains entered and left at the top level and dropped coal (needed to keep the fires of London burning) down hoppers, hence its name.

The original arched roof has gone, though some fixings remain, and Thomas Heatherwick has converted it into a stylish retail and refreshment destination, with specialist and boutique shops, including new curved structures over the top which appear to come together in a kiss at the centre, to be occupied by Samsung.   It is great to see it set against the Gasholders which, designed by Wilkinson Eyre, combine historic structures with contemporary living and a new pocket park.

In the winter weather of February in London, it’s a little quiet and lacks sparkle, despite the illuminated see-saws, though it may be more active at the weekend with organised events and a food fair.  It was disappointing to find that the kissing lovers on the top are empty – hopefully when Samsung arrives, they will add the anchor tenant that all good retail centres require.  There is also oodles of space, so a new restaurant or bar pavilion might be attractive, to compliment the other restaurants that have appeared in the area.   Critical mass can add value…

The larger challenge in London is Clapham Junction – a huge area of land that, if bridged over, could almost create a new town.  Does the regeneration of King’s Cross provide any inspiration?  Yes, have a great architect who can something create new and imaginative …

  • Coal Drops Yard 12
  • Coal Drops Yard 1
  • Coal Drops Yard 2
  • Coal Drops Yard 3
  • Coal Drops Yard 4
  • Coal Drops Yard 5
  • Coal Drops Yard 6
  • Coal Drops Yard 7
  • Coal Drops Yard 8
  • Coal Drops Yard 9
  • Coal Drops Yard 10
  • Coal Drops Yard 11

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