This piece is written by Jonathan Smales, Executive Chairman of Beyond Green
Beyond Green is drafting a sustainability overview paper for place-making developer’s Argent. Renowned for their work at Brindley Place, Birmingham and their investments in Piccadilly Place, The Hive and elsewhere in Manchester, Argent asked us initially to look most closely at their flagship project – and what a project! – London’s King’s Cross. The scope of the brief has recently been widened to help prepare an underpinning philosophy on sustainability for the new LLP business.
King’s Cross is a 67-acre mixed use scheme evolving under the auspices of the King’s Cross Central Partnership. With the opening several years ago of the rejeuvenated St Pancras Station, sitting alongside the impressive British Library, Londoners and not a few Continental European travellers began to witness both the scale of investment committed to this once neglected area of London and the quality of judgement in design and execution. It now seems that almost every month a new building, eaterie, impressive piece of public realm or vista is opening, making us see this area in an entirely new light.
The impressive, newly consolidated University of the Arts, situated in a former granary warehouse, renewed and added to beautifully by architects Stanton Williams, overlooks the lower, southern end of the ‘site’ and provides further evidence of the imagination and care invested in this vast regeneration scheme.
More recently the new entrance to and sweeping canopy over King’s Cross station itself reinforces the gathering momentum and excitement.
As the safety barriers on the almost bewildering panoply of construction sites begin to be taken down London is starting to see a whole new piece of city emerge. Used only to the glitz, specialized and, let’s be frank, vulgar new large scale developments such as Canary Wharf, individual projects like the Shard or the very gradual renewal of old fabric in places like Clerkenwell, London has not seen the like of the King’s Cross adventure before in the modern era.
Very strategic, bold in its scope and ambition, the emphasis put squarely on people not just place (Argent’s ‘Principles for a Human City’ in 2001, signalled this early on), King’s Cross is emerging into what I believe will now become one of the capital’s great city quarters, a new centre of gravity in and for London.
Beyond Green – late arrivals on the scene having been appointed this year – is delighted to have been asked to review what has been done and is being done with regard to sustainability at King’s Cross. We are to post hoc rationalize and cohere, help formulate a way of thinking, an agenda and a process going forward to help secure deep environmental, social and economic sustainability outcomes that are in its grasp.
For more information on our work at King’s Cross, have a look at our project profile.