Our Project Story

Coal Drops Yard.

Kings Cross, London, UK

Phil Grew, Partner at Hoare Lea

Project Lead:
Phil Grew

Enduring experiences.
History made now.

Challenge accepted.

From its hey-day as a rail delivery depot during the industrial revolution to hosting the city’s biggest rave parties in the ‘90s and ‘00s, Coal Drops Yard has been at the beating heart of the central London scene. It epitomises the city's ever evolving spirit.

Now, these restored Victorian brick built buildings are entering one of their most exciting chapters yet – as a shopping and restaurant district at the heart of the King’s Cross estate.

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Working with Heatherwick Studio has been incredibly exciting. From the initial introduction of the concept design, the project has developed into a rollercoaster ride of bold ideas and creativity.
Ross Macpherson, Senior Associate and Project Leader

Reimagining the interaction of art, culture and commerce.

The vision was to transform the unique Victorian brick structures into a breath-taking space filled with boutiques, restaurants, cafes and bars, surrounded by vibrant public realm. Building on the unique and creative culture already established at King’s Cross, the development will be one of London’s most distinctive must-visit locations. It's a comfortable, adaptable, and sustainable space that respects the heritage of the site, all while delivering value for King’s Cross.

A performance-based approach.

Working closely with Heatherwick Studio and Argent, we developed the early-stage design to obtain planning approval, crafting a robust energy and sustainability strategy. Throughout the base-build and fit-out, we helped to ensure that Coal Drops Yard achieved a BREEAM Very Good rating, while maintaining the flexibility it required. We recognised that the unique merging of the two gabled roofs demanded a performance-based approach, so we tested and validated this unique environment for everything from pedestrian wind comfort and safety to daylight access.
Technical Impact

New life in an old shell.

We have worked on some of the country’s leading retail destinations and we combined this with our experience of heritage buildings to help refine the brief. The historic chimney stacks were used to conceal catering extract and heat rejection systems, and a network of underground services were designed to interlink the buildings across the site. By hiding the service corridors to each of the retail units in the existing building fabric, the structure's historic architectural characteristics were integrated seamlessly into the new design. The added success? The historic buildings have been preserved for future generations, in keeping with the Victorian spirit of industry and innovation – but repurposed for a sustainable future, and able to deliver retail operational requirements for years to come.
Human Impact

People-centred placemaking.

People can now visit Coal Drops Yard for the first time in its exciting new form. The central yard, under the 'kissing point' of the Eastern and Western coal drops buildings is a space in which the visitor experience is taken to the next level – creating drama, energy, and entertainment for people. Ultimately, this cutting-edge sustainable environment will rewrite the rulebook on shopping experiences.
Cobbled streets and the Victorian brick arches will house a wonderful and unexpected mix of individual, independent shops together with signature brands.
Key Figures
61 retailers all provided with heating and cooling from low carbon district heating and cooling networks.
1 centralised common network system which allows monitoring and control of all the systems for the site and future proofing for new technology trends.
7 historic chimney stacks were repurposed to conceal catering extract and heat rejection systems.

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Getting the right team involved has always been critical to achieving success. Hoare Lea is a key component and has provided us with the right balance of creative design flair and diligent, reliable delivery.
Morwenna Hall, Chief Operating Officer, Argent
Phil Grew, Partner at Hoare Lea

Project Lead:
Phil Grew

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