On Friday the 9th of September 2016, AIA UK members and guests met at Argent's King's Cross redevelopment scheme to tour the Gasholder residential buildings. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre, the three building 145 unit apartment project is scheduled for completion early next year. The tour was led by Wilkinson Eyre's project architect, Jeff Lee. Tour attendees earned 1 continuing education learning unit for participation.
The Gasholder project is the "jewel in the crown" for developer Argent and provides the developments high end luxury residential offer. The estimated construction cost for the three buildings is circa £125m. This figure includes £16m for the restoration of four gasholder structures. Studio apartments start at £800,000 and prices rise to over £10m for a three bed penthouse.
The key feature and design driver of the project is the reuse of three 1867 grade II listed gasholders. Although not reconstructed in their original position, the gasholders really define the project's design. The design concept provides 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 gasholder structure is located at the centre of the gasholder structural frames and forms an open courtyard.
The building volumes are contained within each of the gasholder structural frames. This structural expression is further enhanced by a system of operable and static metal panels that can be used to control the environmental conditions inside the apartments. The dark steel cladding contrasts with other elements of brass and bronze.
Inside, the apartments are linked by a series of circular walkways around a central courtyard in each building. This brings natural light into the building's core and circulation corridors. Rooftop landscaping connects nature with the surrounding urban landscape.
The project presented real challenges for the design team, as everything was dictated by the gasholder structures. The result is a fantastic celebration of King's Cross' industrial heritage. Wilkinson Eyre's design has brought the gasholders back to a new life and Argent is to be commended for having the courage to undertake such a unique project!
Article by Michael Lischer FAIA