Once cut off from the city and long an undesirable address, King's Cross has over the last few years undergone a dramatic transformation. Defined by two of Britain’s busiest train stations – King’s Cross and St Pancras – the site had for many decades consisted of derelict railway yards and fragments from an earlier industrial heyday. In 2000, Argent took on the role of developing the land between and directly north of the two stations, enlisting Allies and Morrison and Poprhyrios Associates to design the masterplan.
The masterplan grew out of the historic site’s underlying patterns, stitching a lost piece of London back into its fabric and bringing new life to one of the UK's most remarkable industrial heritage sites. Historic buildings such as the Granary were dramatically transformed into the new home of a global arts university – Central St Martins. Transit sheds dating from the mid-1800s were retained to create distinctive retail spaces. Long empty, the oldest purpose-built gym in Britain, was re-imagined as a grand restaurant.
Argent retains long term ownership and the management of the site. Their commitment to design quality is reflected in the range of more than thirty architects who were invited to design individual parcels, including Maki and Associates, David Chipperfield Architects, Heatherwick Studio and Wilkinson Eyre.
Approaching completion, King’s Cross is today one of London’s most popular destinations for both businesses to locate and for people to visit. For a commercial development, it has attracted a distinctly international and dynamic tenant mix. Google’s European headquarters will soon sit alongside academic and cultural institutions.
The project offers a model for commercial development that takes a long-term view. Still in the process of becoming, King’s Cross is already one of London's most sought-after places.