One of the main reason London is able to attract and leave speechless any kind of tourist, who visits the lively streets of the British capital city for the first time, is the perfect balance between tradition and innovation – the result of a considerate and attentive urban plan. The flawless picture of a city that proudly shows its history and traditions walking hand in hand with the charming fresh modernity.
This is what happens nowadays on the shores of the Thames, where development and progress bring back to life abandoned suburban areas and old buildings. The Gasholder Apartments in King’s Cross (14-15 Stable street, N1C 4AB) represent the most recent and enlightening example. Once an industrial wasteland where most people wouldn’t want to be traverse after late hours, the north central area of King’s Cross has now become a modern and bubbling hub to gather and meet up. In fact, it is no coincidence that Google has chosen to move its London offices as well as building their European headquarter in this area.
These Victorian gas holders were originally built in 1860-67 for the storage of town gas for Pancras Gasworks, the largest gasworks in London. After that, they were enlarged with new interconnected guide frames and telescopic lifts and preserved as Fine Art buildings. Gasholders Nos. 10, 11 and 12 represented the only triplet of gasholders in the world and were active until the late 20th Century when the gasworks was decommissioned.
In 2002, Wilkinson Eyre’s designers and developers sized up the big potential behind the three interlocking gasholders and devised a broad redevelopment plan. However, a big challenge had to be faced before proceeding with a final project: How do you transform something industrial into luxury? This was carefully and brilliantly sorted out by Jonathan Tuckey Design, one of the UK’s leading advocates for re-modelling old buildings for modern uses.
‘We wanted to celebrate the gasholders’ history and geometry while giving owners a sense of softness. People need to feel like they’re in a home rather than a machine’,
Says Tuckey – while Chris Wilkinson adds;
‘Working with circular geometry has resulted in really beautiful ideas. We’re placing new against old, finding ways to create an elegant contrast’.
The initial design was inspired by Eastern European power stations from the 20s, selecting materials such as brushed brass and darkened oak and using diamond-like details for turbine wheels. The project consists of 145 apartments to be arranged like ‘slices of a cake’ following the circular configuration of the plan. Combining fine high-quality materials with elements from the industrial age made it possible to achieve that positioning between industry, craft and luxury.
The transformation of the trio of Victorian gas holders has finally been completed in February 2018 and now we can have a closer look at it. The prices range from £810,000 to £3,525,000 – including studios, 1, 2 & 3 bedroom apartments as well as nine penthouses.
The entrance of the complex presents a luxurious lobby featuring a state of the art lightning artwork as well as a dedicated delivery room for dry-cleaning and food deliveries.
The apartments, ranging in floor plans of 449 to 3,050 square feet, have curved walls reflected by mirrors in order to visually create more space and appear to continue round. Living spaces are positioned at the wide end, while bathrooms, featuring brass handles taps, are at the tip of the ‘cake slices’. The Gasholders feature a rich list of amenities including a gym, spa and cinema, bookable communal spaces, a courtyard with reflective pool and garden rooftops decorated by Dan Pearson, winner of the Chelsea Flower Show. The roof gardens and upper floors offer panoramic view over Canary Wharf, St Paul’s, The Shard and the London Eye.
This project is the epitome of what King’s Cross is all about; industrial heritage and cutting-edge contemporary design blending together to create an urban environment with character.