The Canal Corridor is a series of interlocking spaces along the northern side of the Regent’s Canal extending through the historic core of the King’s Cross Development, connecting the Maiden Lane Bridge at York Way to the east and the railway bridge accessing St Pancras Station to the west. The corridor was conceived as part of the site wide masterplan to open up the King’s Cross Development to the canal with a series of active public spaces; breaking through the boundary wall to reconnect the canal and knit in with its surrounding neighbourhoods and bring in the diverse communities of the area. The King’s Cross masterplan is the development of a 67 acre brownfield site in central London.
The Canal Corridor is broadly on 2 levels, the towpath level alongside the canal and an upper level, some 3 metres above, separated by a retaining wall running the length of the site, an impenetrable built-form barrier of walls, generally blank building and structural facades all turning their back on the Regents Canal. The Canal Corridor scheme has delivered active spaces and routes that enhance the links and accessibility of the site and will evolve into a successful, lively neighbourhood, which sits as part of the wider city.
The delivery of the corridor has been in 3 parts:
– The enhancement of the canal towpath with new surfacing, places to dwell, mooring locations and areas of planting.
– Interventions along the length of the canal wall to create visual and physical access between the upper and lower levels, including sloped and stepped access points and the Ghat steps inviting people to occupy the space.
– The creation of a series of varied public spaces along the length to create an inviting public realm for those living, working and visiting the site. These include the Gas Holder Park, the Plimsoll Viaduct, and Wharf Road.
At King’s Cross the public realm has been delivered in advance of the buildings, which has meant that it has formed the social heart of King’s Cross, delivering an accessible destination that is becoming increasingly activated as the adjoining buildings become occupied. The Canal Corridor has become a destination for people to walk, cycle, and meet. It has hosted formal events such as the Lumiere Festival and informal activities such as a place for local school children to have lessons outdoors.
At a planning stage, the project was delivered as a series of phased schemes, each contributing to the realisation of the masterplan. The project teams included a broad range of consultants working together and the project has delivered a high quality public realm which will endure the rigours of high level of usage.
Each of the spaces are designed to offer inclusive access. At Gas Holder Park the ground levels were formed to slope down to the towpath level, creating step free access. Sinuous paths flow around areas of planting and lawn link the gasholder structures and the canal towpath with seating interspersed throughout. A sloped path rises up to the east to the new Somers Town Bridge with the canal wall rising parallel to the path. The bridge is located at the junction of Gas Holder Park and the Viaduct, a linear garden with pocket spaces carved out of the planting with seating opportunities above the historic Wharf Road Arches. As the corridor continues eastwards it slopes downwards, alongside the Fish and Coal buildings into Granary Square where the Ghat Steps were inserted into the canal wall, opening up views and the link to the canal towpath. At the eastern side of Granary Square, the canal wall was pushed back and a sloped access introduced, emerging from the towpath to the north of the Lighterman building where steps and a lift to the towpath have also been constructed. At the upper level, the formation of Wharf Road Gardens complements Gas Holder Park using sinuous paths between lawns which have raised edges for seating and sections of edge which are flush to allow inclusive access onto the lawns. Together the spaces have used complementary materials and harmonious characters to create a new linear public open space in London.
Entrant office name: Townshend Landscape Architects
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape Architect
Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
Designer for GasHolder#8: Bell Philips Architects
Planting design: Dan Pearson Studio
Detail design: Applied Landscape Design (ALD)
Project location (Street, City, Country): Kings Cross Central, Near Stable Street, London N1C 4AB, United Kingdom
Design year: In stages to 2017
Year Built: In stages to 23 February 2017
Photography by John Sturrock and Townshend Landscape Architects