Build March Issue

Build Magazine 21 hen it was first announced that the once- blighted railway land behind King’s Cross station would be revamped via a new block of flats named the Plimsoll Building, nobody really knew just how positive an effect this building would have on the community into which is was situated. Situated in a series of interlinking scaled blocks designed by David Morley Architects, the dashing new scheme of 178 flats sits beside Regent’s Canal and, in a union consistent with the diverse mix at this new neighbourhood, above two new schools. The architectural detail features textured brick cladding that dovetails neatly with surrounding heritage buildings, and an internal podium garden designed by Dan Pearson. David Morley Architects is an award-winning London-based architectural practice specialising in projects that are both evolutionary and revolutionary, building on tradition as well as creating prototypes for the future. The practice believes that exceptional architecture is the product of great design and enlightened patronage. The building is named after Samuel Plimsoll, a Victorian industrialist with links to the history of King’s Cross. Plimsoll was a politician in the time of Queen Victoria’s reign. He campaigned for the safety of miners, and then, inspired by several major shipwrecks (and his investment in the railway coal drops at King’s Cross), moved his focus to goods ships, inventing what became known as the Plimsoll Line as a guide to how low in the water vessels should be. With a triple-height entrance foyer, a glass scenic elevator for the ride to upper floors including a rooftop conservatory, an art gallery and three communal terraces, the building is home to many conveniences for the community such as a business lounge and dining space open for meetings and private events, as well as on-site gym facilities. The design of the apartments in the Plimsoll Building is influenced by the existing industrial vernacular, an important reminder of the rich heritage and history of King’s Cross. The Plimsoll Building is King’s Cross’ third private residential building to launch. It is situated alongside the Regent’s Canal, next to both the Tapestry, and the Gasholder No 8, which is being transformed into a beautiful urban park and events space. The architecture of the building references the Victorian industrial heritage of King’s Cross – it is externally-clad in a textured brick – whilst internal facades are made up of of light concrete panels which reflect and direct sunlight into the internal garden space. Interiors will be designed by Johnson Naylor, a practice which works with many of London’s best developers. With an inspirational new canal and park-side apartments at the heart of the vibrant, and ever evolving King’s Cross, central London, the Plimsoll Building is a cluster of towers arranged around a stunning communal garden, landscaped with architectural trees, shrubs and aromatic herbs. Occupying a key position alongside Gasholder Park, this thirteen storey building offers a truly world class residential experience. Alongside the private-sale apartments, The Plimsoll Building includes the Winter block, 77 affordable rented homes being provided in partnership with the Dolphin Square Foundation. The building also has two schools, on the ground and first floors: King’s Cross Academy and the Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children. These schools are co-located together and share facilities within an integrated, inclusive and sign/ spoken bilingual environment. When it was announced that 133,000 additional school places will be needed in the capital by 2018 and with expectations that many of London’s boroughs will fail to meet demand for school places over the next few years, the Plimsoll Building truly differentiates itself from its surrounding residential neighbours is the inclusion of not one, but two, schools occupying the bottom two of its 13 storeys. The King’s Cross Academy is a two-form entry primary and nursery school that will eventually have places for up to 420 pupils. The Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children is a smaller school that caters for children aged two to 11 with a range of hearing difficulties. The huge amount of pressure on school development within London has made the incorporation of two schools into a residential building in King’s Cross an example of how school designers are becoming ever more responsive to the changing physical and political environment they face. With space for new schools being sparse, particularly in dense inner London, planners, developers and designers are being forced to become ever more creative as to where schools are located. Having schools incorporated into a residential building on a tight inner-city site sets an important precedent for school designs. David Morley explained that other design options were explored at the start of the project for how the school and housing elements of the development could be configured. “We looked at several options for how the school and residential options could be integrated. We looked at freestanding school options as well as the idea of some sort of vertical multi-storey stack. The vertical model provided good adjacencies and opened up the possibility of using the roof as a playground. But in the end, the extent of vertical circulation proved impractical and inefficient.” Architectural Project of theMonth W