Last week, I had the opportunity to catch up with Argent’s Roger Madelin CBE to take a look at the work of the last decade the King’s Cross regeneration scheme. The marketing pack urges that the vision for King’s Cross aims to capture hearts and minds: after my visit, I came away feeling that it had certainly stuck a chord with me – as a striking example of 21st Century place making.
Cited as one of London’s most significant regeneration schemes, this major regeneration project covers a substantial, 67 acre site close to Central London. Approaching via the new concourse link to the refurbished King’s Cross railway station, my first impressions supported the developer’s claims that something special is in the making in the brand new postcode of N1C. You know that a place is shaping up when you see street vendors moving in – such as the one in the photo below.
Since Kings Place opened and became the new home of The Guardian newspaper, I have been intrigued as to how the wider project would evolve. It seemed to me that it has a lot going for it with good transport links and huge infrastructure upgrades. Walking around the site, I felt that the heritage of the place has been respected – the new buildings will provide a nice balance of old and new. I was particularly struck by the diversity of the new neighbourhood: the mix of the refurbished St Pancras International station; the award-winning, Granary Complex (an inspiring, new home for the Central St.Martin’s students); the Google and other corporate HQ’s; 350 new homes (the first of nearly 2,000) and the Agha Khan’s educational, cultural and student homes. Quite a cocktail – but one that I am confident will emerge as a really smart place for the 21st century. It has many parallels to Media City UK but probably has the edge, given its London location.
Despite the fact that there is considerable construction on-site and in the pipeline in the next few years, there’s a sense that everything is fitting neatly into the master plan and (as far as I could see) the early occupiers could go about their business without much disruption. There is something for everyone and this visitor experience was made richer by the vibrancy of the student population and the whimsical distraction of the pavement sideshows such as an Alsatian dog trying to capture the geyser flows in the Granary fountain. So – watch this space! I have little doubt King’s Cross will emerge as an amazing and engaging 21st century community.