Caruso St John has been given the go-ahead for proposals to replace a block of industrial units in Camden, north London, with a new mixed-use scheme
The 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize-winning practice’s designs will replace a group of 12 industrial units that make up St Pancras Commercial Centre on Pratt Street.
Voting to approve the development and the attached conditions last night (23 January), Heather Johnson, chair of Camden Council’s planning committee, said she would ’like to see the same architect’ retained on the job.
The new 24,442m² scheme, backed by London-based property developer W Real Estate, includes three new buildings up to seven storeys and carves a new pedestrian route through the 0.49ha site.
The development will provide a mix of housing, workspace and offices, as well as retail units.
The designs also include a public courtyard and a shared roof terrace on the sixth floor of the office block, with capacity for up to 130 people.
The housing element of the scheme includes 33 homes – with 14 affordable or intermediate – in two separate blocks of five and six storeys, plus basement level.
The office element, a stepped building of seven storeys, includes 3,297m² of light industrial space, 16,345m² of office space and 765m² of shops at ground floor level.
To the south is St Pancras Hospital, where Penoyre & Prasad’s new Moorfields Eye Hospital will be built.
When the scheme was first submitted last summer it provoked criticism from the South Kentish Town Conservation Area Advisory Committee, which claimed the scheme would be ‘overbearing’.
In October the Mayor’s Office said it could not support the scheme until it received several clarifications about site drainage. To allay any fears engineers AKT II produced a ’response to planning application comments’ document focusing mainly on the flooding and drainage strategy.
Sascha Lewin, managing director of W Real Estate, said: ’This is a highly ambitious scheme that balances the re-provision of light industrial space with the delivery of best-in-class office space, high quality mixed-tenure housing and associated retail space at ground level for all to enjoy.
’It serves as an example of how through good design, different use classes can seamlessly co-exist to deliver a successful mixed-use destination that meets the needs of all users and benefits the local community.”
Demolition of the existing blocks is expected at the beginning of August. Construction will take around three years to complete.
The site, to the north of King’s Cross Station, is currently occupied by a block of 1980s light industrial units. The 24,000m² development will comprise three new buildings – one primarily commercial and two primarily residential – that range in height from five to seven storeys and respond to the varying characters of neighbouring buildings.
The mix of uses in the project is complex, unusual and exciting. The scheme retains the existing provision of industrial workspace on the site and creates new office spaces, ground-floor retail spaces and apartments of various sizes, including 14 affordable units. The idea of living in a working building and working in an apartment block has advantages and addresses both a shortage of housing in Camden and threats to light-industrial space throughout Central London.
The proposals establish new public routes through the site and animate the ground floor with retail, workspaces and a café for tenants and the wider pubic. A landscaped public open space is at the centre of the new development.
This part of Camden has a tradition of late-19th and early-20th century residential, industrial and institutional buildings. The Centro Building, The Royal Veterinary College and Goldington Buildings all share a Classical intent with a strong horizontal emphasis. Brick is combined with pale masonry string courses, to make buildings that have strong repetitive arrangements of large windows. The proposals respond to these precedents and follow a similar pattern – with four and five-storey street façades and a regular arrangement of large windows. The finer scale of the proposed residential buildings mediates between adjacent Georgian and Victorian terraced housing and larger-scale buildings along the Regent’s Canal.
The façade is an expression of the building’s unusually generous structure. The primary vertical rhythm is made of fluted white precast concrete. Pilasters extend up to smooth white concrete capitals that coincide with the internal floor levels. Dark-painted metal profiles span between the capitals and frame a red sandstone spandrel panel. On the set-back floors at the top of the building the façade changes to become lighter and more open.
Sustainability has been a core driver in the design, which includes a very high-performance façade. The building is heated and cooled with all electric systems, avoiding gas altogether, and makes use of on-site generation and anticipates an increasingly decarbonised grid.
Modelphoto 1.33 housing 01 crop
Location Camden, London
Client W·Real Estate
Architect Caruso St John Architects
Structure and façade engineering AKT II
Services engineering, fire and sustainability Norman Disney Young
Project manager Blackburn and Co.
Quantity surveyor Exigere
Urban context research DSDHA
Planning and affordable housing consultancy Gerald Eve
Townscape consultant Peter Stewart Consultancy
Landscape architect Jonathan Cook Landscape Architects
Transport and people flow consultant Urban Flow
Rights of light surveyor Point 2
Acoustic consultant Hann Tucker Associates