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FIRST LOOK

Moxon’s King’s Cross Bridge is a lightweight love-letter to Victorian engineering

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The 38m-long pedestrian and cycle crossing over the Regent’s Canal will unite two contrasting areas of the development, writes Jon Astbury

Moxon Architects, working with engineer Arup, has unveiled its new pedestrian bridge for King’s Cross Central. The bridge spans the Regent’s Canal between Camley Street and the new Gasholder Gardens, creating a connection for pedestrians and cyclists to the west, into Somers Town.

The bridge’s entire 38m span is only 15mm thick and achieves a minimum depth of 400mm at each end. Drawing on Victorian design in the surrounding vicinity, the bridge is robust, with detailed craftsmanship and a careful selection of materials. The form of the bridge precisely matches its bending moment, making it a direct demonstration of where steel is required in the beam. 

A sweeping ramp leads people up to the bridge and over the water, while the parapet transitions from stainless steel to planed hardwood, changing in shape from the curved profile of the beam to the straight line of the handrail.

By locating the structural depth above deck level, the design maintains a clear view of the canal south from St Pancras Lock. The air draught is maximised, ensuring that any canal boats waiting to use the locks can be surveyed without the bridge obscuring them, as well as keeping views to the St Pancras Lock and Cottage as open as possible.

The project site covers land owned by three different parties: The Canal & River Trust for the airspace over the Regent’s Canal and associated towpaths; the London Borough of Camden for the Camley Street Natural Park, which in turn is leased to the London Wildlife Trust; and the client, King’s Cross Central. All of these partners have been instrumental in the bridge’s design development process.

The bridge connects two very different sites, from the urbanism of the Coal Drops Yard to the east, to the Camley Street Natural Park at the western abutment. It is located within the Regent’s Canal Conservation Area, and surrounded by several listed structures, including the St Pancras Water Tower.

The King’s Cross development already benefits from a growing mix of amenities including bars and restaurants, public parks and squares, arts and exhibition spaces, and the public swimming pools and gym in Camden Council’s new headquarters.

Architect’s view

The ambition for this bridge has been to achieve ‘extreme simplicity’ in terms of form and material use. It is a considered and beautiful addition to the location, but even more than this, we have developed a design that is as emphatically and enjoyably practical as its Victorian neighbours.

Ben Addy, managing director, Moxon Achitects

Engineer’s view

It is a fitting addition to the King’s Cross development as the complex geometry and robust engineering have resulted in a slender and refined bridge, which also echoes the site’s industrial past.

Ian Wilson, project director, Arup

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