Cubitt Square, Kings Cross
The intention of this invited competition project for Argent / Aga Khan Foundation was to design a canopy structure for the central crossing point in the Kings Cross development. The canopy is envisaged as an integral element with the public sqare and will serve as an events space fro the adjacent retail and cultural centre that will play host to modest scale activities. In response to the brief we came up with two options.
The first option proposes five table like forms stepping upwards from the surface of the square generating a subtle three dimensional cluster of objects. Engineered back to their most delicate and slender form, they are intended to sit in contrast to the heavy Victorian back drop of the linear coal drops and transit sheds. The proposal offers a constantly changing composition when viewed from alternating vantage points framing views both across and into the square with a unique and identifiable landmark anchoring the square and Cubitt Park within the wider masterplan. Each of the tablets rests upon the other, ensuring that as few columns as possible touch the surfaces of the square. The variegated canopy tops generate a series of rooms which can be occupied in a number of ways, or all as one to accommodate modestly sized events. The design allows rainwater to cascade from one canopy top to the next feeding adjacent water features cut into the surface of the square.
The second option proposes to contain the scale of the canopy to a simple linear profile, which is articulated by crystalline prisms hanging within a simple reduced polished steel frame. These crystals are designed to let light flow through, with options for transparency, translucency and perhaps opacity. The twenty five prisms are suspended within a regular grid of slender beam sections, above the surface of the square on four highly polished stanless steel columns, set asymmetrically to the canopy grid. These prisms are intended to read as a reinterpretation of the industrial coal hoppers historically used for funnelling coal into waiting cargo holds. The canopy structure has been engineered to it’s slimmest profile, presenting a refined and delicate appearance within the more industrial backdrop. When viewed from above, this simple yet elegant form, will appear as a crafted table top resting upon the continuous stone surface of the square. When viewed from below, the canopy soffit will read as a gridded cluster of translucent crystals, which displace and reflect light down onto the square below, casting myriad patterns as the sun passes overhead.
Both options reference and contrast the heavy industrial setting, but do so in such a way as to create the required delicate table top described within the brief. They are also both highly engineered, using highly durable stainless steel as the dominant structural material to generate the clearest of spans and to touch the square as lightly as possible.