WilkinsonEyre has completed work on Gasholders London for King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership; a development of 145 apartments within a triplet of listed gasholder guide frames.
King’s Cross is the largest urban redevelopment scheme in Europe, and the rich industrial heritage of the area is integral to its renaissance. Among the most distinctive and beautiful features to be retained is the triplet of Grade II-listed, cast iron gasholder guide frames which were originally constructed in 1867. The triplet was abandoned as heavy industry moved to the outskirts of the city, and was dismantled in 2001 to allow for the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. The guide frames, including 123 columns, have been painstakingly restored by Shepley Engineers in Yorkshire. Despite being over 150 years old, the triplet was in remarkably good condition, largely preserved from decay by its 32 layers of historic paint.
WilkinsonEyre won a design competition in 2002, with the concept for three residential buildings to be housed within the elegant frames. The concept proposed three drums of accommodation at differing heights to suggest the movement of the original gasholders, which would have risen up or down depending on the pressure of the gas within. A fourth, virtual drum shape, located at the centre forms an open courtyard, celebrating the conglomeration of the cast iron structures at their point of intersection. The design for Gasholders has been developed to create a dynamic counterpoint between new and old. The heavy industrial aesthetic and raw physical materiality of the guide frames contrasts with the lightness and intricacy of the interior spaces.