The King’s Cross area of London has seen major changes in recent years as part of an extensive redevelopment scheme. Coal Drops Yard was originally built in the 1850s as sheds for storing and redistributing coal bought to the capital from the north via train.
Heatherwick Studio headed a project to bring new life to these structures, transforming them into boutiques, restaurants, galleries, shops and public spaces. The design, with Frener & Reifer as part of the redevelopment team, focused on revamping the original buildings and structures, and then connecting them through the addition of a new volume. The latter is a glazed construction created by extending the gabled-roofs of the original buildings using a rising design that, as the two structures now touch, has come to be known as the “kissing point”.
Frener & Reifer oversaw the technical development, design-engineering, fabrication and installation of the building envelope for the revamped and new sections. This involved, for example, installing 565 sq. m of graduated “zig-zag” glass façade with 8 m high insulation glazing,
120 sq. m ribbon-roof lights, 200 sq. m transom-and-mullion façades on the rear side of the station and 80 sq. m walkable glass floor.
Parametric 3D BIM modeling was used in the design phase as the irregular shapes of the façade and the three-dimensionally curved sheet metal cladding, following the form of the building, added layers of complexity to the project. Special glass mounting brackets had to be designed to accommodate the movement and tolerances of the “kissing point”.
By bringing Frener & Reifer into the redevelopment team, the architects were able to draw on the company’s over 40 years of experience in the design, creation and installation of special structures in glass, metal and other materials. This proved essential in achieving the desired architectural and technological quality, and ensured the designers’ ideas came to life using innovative, exclusive solutions. The combination of tradition and technology is another layer of the appeal in this rich, historic section of London.