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David Morley wins planning to overhaul King’s Cross arches

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David Morley Architects has won planning for the transformation of King’s Cross’ historic Fish and Coal Buildings and Wharf Road Arches

The heritage buildings, which sit between the Regent’s Canal and Granary Square, will be renovated to provide restaurant space, offices, and test kitchens.

The 1,600m² scheme will see the lower arches converted into a new restaurant for Jamie Oliver, while the upper floors of the Fish and Coal Building will be transformed into a ‘creative centre’ for the Jamie Oliver Group.  

The Fish and Coal Buildings and Wharf Road Arches were built in 1851 and provided offices for the coal trades’ clerical workers. The buildings, which follow the curve of the Regent’s Canal, were later used by staff administering the onward distribution of fish, brought into London through King’s Cross. The buildings were gutted by fire in 1983, and have remained empty ever since.

The Wharf Road Arches originally provided stables for horses which carried goods after they were unloaded at the train station. In the nineties they were converted into a nightclub but have remained empty since it closed in 2007.

The proposals include a new conservatory extension and outdoor roof terrace.

A high-level ‘viaduct’ inspired by New York’s High Line will also be created. Designed by Dan Pearson, the green planted scheme will link the buildings with Coal Drops Yard and Gasholder Park, which is being designed by Bell Phillips Architects (AJ 22.08.14).

David Morley, partner at David Morley Architects, said: ‘The Fish and Coal Buildings have amazing potential, overlooking the Regent’s Canal on one side and Granary Square on the other. Each of the five blocks is different - the heights vary, the floor levels don’t line through, some are curved and some are tapering as well.

‘Because the buildings have so much character already, the design approach adopts a light touch, opening up the interior and resolving all of the complex level changes, but leaving much of the fabric as found.

‘We have then proposed a few bold contemporary interventions which will transform the flexibility of the buildings and give an outward expression to the process of regeneration.’

Morwenna Wilson, Argent’s asset manager at King’s Cross, added: ‘These buildings are stunning examples of robust, Victorian industrial architecture. Jamie Oliver Group is the perfect partner to work with to restore these buildings to their former glory and make them thriving and bustling centres of activity once again.’

The scheme is set to open in 2016.

This is the second project the practice is working on as part of Argent’s King’s Cross masterplan. Its 13-storey Plimsoll Building, which contains 178 private apartments, a specialist school for deaf children and a primary school, is due to complete in 2015 (AJ 21.03.14).

David Morley Fish and Coal

Project data

Location King’s Cross, London
Type of project restoration and refurbishment
Client King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership
Architect David Morley Architects
Landscape and planning consultant TLA and King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership
Structural engineer Price & Myers
M&E consultant Hoare Lea and BAM
Quantity surveyor Gardiner and Theobald
Planning supervisor King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership
Main contractor BAM
Start on site date November 2014
Completion date December 2015
Contract duration 13 months
Total cost confidential

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