Michelle Harbi checks out the am­bi­tious new re­de­vel­op­ment of King’s Cross

Business Traveller - - CONTENTS - kingscross.co.uk Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Ben Allen


Once one of in­ner Lon­don’s grit­ti­est ar­eas, King’s Cross is un­der­go­ing huge trans­for­ma­tion. Some 27 hectares of for­mer rail­way land are be­ing turned into a mixed-use district with its own post­code, N1C. Her­itage build­ings are be­ing re­pur­posed, shiny new struc­tures are ris­ing fast, ten parks and squares are be­ing laid out, and close to 2,000 homes are be­ing added. While still a work in progress – it’s all due to be fin­ished by 2020 – most pub­lic ar­eas are now com­plete and ripe for ex­plor­ing.

Start at Bat­tle Bridge Place, be­tween King’s Cross and St Pan­cras In­ter­na­tional sta­tions. On one side is the new Ger­man Gym­na­sium grand café and bar, housed in a 1860s build­ing that was once Eng­land’s first pur­pose-built gym. Head up King’s Boule­vard – in the fu­ture, it will be open to traf­fic but for now is pedes­tri­anised. Its hoard­ings tell sto­ries of the area’s past and present. On your left is Pan­cras Square (pic­tured above), a land­scaped space of wa­ter fea­tures and lawns sur­rounded by of­fices and eater­ies. To your right will be Google’s new Lon­don HQ, plans for which are be­ing fi­nalised. At the top, a 6.5 me­tre-high plat­form of­fers el­e­vated views.


Pro­ject de­vel­oper Ar­gent cre­ated a curve at the top of King’s Boule­vard so that the heart of the de­vel­op­ment, Gra­nary Square, un­veils it­self only at the last mo­ment. Com­pleted in 2012, it has at its cen­tre more than 1,000 chore­ographed foun­tains that are il­lu­mi­nated at night. Straight ahead is the Gra­nary Build­ing, a for­mer wheat store­house that is now home to Cen­tral Saint Mar­tins art school and restau­rants Grain Store and Car­a­van. The Lighter­man, a din­ing room and bar over­look­ing Re­gent’s Canal, opens this month, while Jamie Oliver is launch­ing a“con­cept”restau­rant and pub later this year. The steps down to the canal are a pop­u­lar bask­ing spot when the sun’s out.


To the right of the Gra­nary Build­ing is the House of Il­lus­tra­tion, the UK’s only gallery ded­i­cated to the art­form. Founded in 2014 by Roald Dahl col­lab­o­ra­tor Sir Quentin Blake, it show­cases ev­ery­thing from political car­toons and sci­en­tific draw­ings to ad­verts and an­i­ma­tion.

Start­ing this month is the coun­try’s first ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion of Ja­panese shojo manga (girls’ comics), while April will see the launch of the per­ma­nent Quentin Blake Gallery, which is open­ing with a look at the artist’s ap­proach to magic and sur­re­al­ism. Open Tues-Sun 10am-6pm; en­try £7.



Cut through the cen­tral con­course of the Gra­nary Build­ing, paus­ing to look at the art stu­dents’ work in the win­dows – there are also free ping-pong ta­bles if you want to chal­lenge some­one to a game – and exit on to Sta­ble Street. To your right is Dishoom. In­spired by the Irani cafes of old Bom­bay, this branch of the small chain of­fers break­fast and all-day menus. Set across three lev­els, it’s a fab­u­lous space with whirring ceil­ing fans, vin­tage arte­facts and a list of house rules on the wall (no so­lic­it­ing, no mak­ing mis­chief, and no sleep­ing in the wa­ter closet). Take a seat at the bar, or­der up a glass of hot, sweet chai or the house IPA, and choose from the list of small plates,“ruby mur­rays” and grill dishes. Open 8am-11pm (12am ThursSat, from 9am Sat-Sun). dishoom.com


Con­tinue right, past the Lewis Cu­bitt Square and Park. At the far end is King’s Cross Pond Club – an “art in­stal­la­tion you can swim in”, and not for the faint-hearted in in­clement weather. The UK’s first man­made fresh­wa­ter pub­lic bathing pond, it will be in place un­til at least May 2017. There are show­ers, chang­ing rooms and lock­ers, plus sun loungers for warmer months, when book­ing is ad­vised. Un­til the end of this month there’s even a wood-fired bar­rel sauna. See kingscross­pond.club for open­ing times and prices.

Next to the pond is an­other view­ing plat­form and the Skip Gar­den com­mu­nity pro­ject. Fruit and veg grown in the skips are used in its Kitchen, which serves cakes and lunch daily, and it has a chicken coop, a bee­hive and a yurt with a wood-burn­ing stove.

To fin­ish, cut down to the canal via Gash­older Park, a green space set in­side one of King’s Cross’s dis­tinc­tive huge cast-iron gash­old­ers. Walk left past St Pan­cras Lock and you will find your­self back at the steps up to Gra­nary Square. If you’ve still got time, re­trace your steps to­wards the sta­tions and grab a “Gym and Tonic”in the Ger­man Gym­na­sium.

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