Published: 22 August, 2014
By DAN CARRIER
WORK is due to start on turning one of the most iconic landmarks in King’s Cross into a public park – and give a new lease of life to a piece of industrial heritage that has soared above the skyline since the 1850s.
Last night (Thursday), the Town Hall’s planning committee passed designs for a new park to be built within a restored gasholder, which has been moved from St Pancras Road to a new destination half a mile away on the edge of Regent’s Canal.
In 2010 developers Argent held a design competition for ideas as to what the gasholder, known as Gasholder No8, could be used for. Entries included a giant helter-skelter with a huge trampoline on the top, while another suggested putting glass floors inside with cafés and an exhibition space. Instead, the developers went for a simple idea of restoring the soaring iron structures and creating a public park within its span.
An evening stroll? How the gas-holder park may look at night
The gasholder was the largest of a number owned by the St Pancras gasworks company. The design by Bell Phillips Architects shows a circular lawn that sits within the shape of the holder. Around the edge of the structure will be a stainless steel canopy held up by 150 new columns, while the canopy’s roof will have diamond-shaped holes punched through it to so that light hits the ground. Gas Holder Park, as it has been named, includes steps to the south that will lead down to the canal, and there will be trees and shrubs dotted between the original columns.
The gasholder was the backdrop to the 1955 Ealing Studios film The Ladykillers, which starred Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers and Katie Johnson; pop group Oasis also used it in a video of their single Supersonic.
Decommissioned in 2000, the gasholder was carefully dismantled and stored while developers Argent decided what they should do with the Grade II-listed structure.
In 2011, No8 was driven on a fleet of flat-bed articulated lorries to Shepley Ironworks in Yorkshire, where more than 100 years of soot and grime was shot-blasted off the structures and vital repairs were made.
In 2013, the gasholder came home and has now been re-erected next to the Regent’s Canal.
Artist's impression: The gas-holder park
The developer’s spokesman told the New Journal they believed the gasholder would create a unique and stimulating new environment for children to play in, and would also act as a through route for people living and working in the former railway lands site.
The spokesman added: “The park will provide an outdoor space for events and educational activities. In particular, this park will be used as a play space both for the adjacent new academy primary school and for the co-located Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children.”
Speaking about their design for the park, Hari Phillips of Bell Phillips Architects said: “This project epitomises what King’s Cross is all about – outstanding public space, high quality contemporary design and industrial heritage coming together to form an urban environment with character. Gasholder No8 provides a tangible connection with the site’s industrial heritage and this spectacular new space will give members of the public a dramatic new perspective of the historic structure.
“The new stainless steel canopy that will frame the public space utilises cutting-edge design and fabrication methods to create a delicate and precise structure that deliberately contrasts with the cast iron Victorian gasholder.”
Work on the park will begin very shortly and it is expected to open to the public in September 2015.