The new Western Concourse at London’s King’s Cross opens to the public on Monday 19 March 2012, featuring Europe’s largest single span train station structure designed to create a new entrance to the building. Conceived by John McAslan + Partners, the project started in 1997, when the London-based practice was appointed to undertake a safety upgrade of the station.
The architectural ambition of the scheme has been to create a new iconic landmark that will function as a key catalyst for the ongoing regeneration of this new London quarter, as well as providing new facilities that will accommodate the 50 million passengers that pass through the station each year. The new concourse represents the largest phase of the station’s transformation, which is to cost £547 million.
The transformation of King’s Cross Station for Network Rail involves three different styles of architecture: re-use, restoration and new build. The train shed and range buildings have been adapted and re-used, the station’s previously obscured Grade I listed façade is being precisely restored, and a new, highly expressive Western Concourse (made of a steel structure that unfurls from columns like a tree and folds down around the space) has been designed as a centrepiece of the project.
The circularity of the concourse echoes the form of the neighbouring Great Northern Hotel, with the ground floor of the hotel providing access to the concourse. The Western Concourse sits adjacent to the façade of the Western Range, revealing the restored brickwork and masonry of the original station. From this interior space, passengers access the platforms either through the ground level gate-lines in the Ticket Hall via the Western Range building, or by using the mezzanine level gate-line, which leads onto the new cross-platform footbridge.
Located above the new London Underground northern ticketing hall, and with retail elements at mezzanine level, the concourse will transform passenger facilities, whilst also enhancing links to the London Underground, and bus, taxi and train connections at nearby St Pancras train station (that serves the Eurostar connections to mainland European destinations). The concourse is set to become an architectural gateway to the King’s Cross Central mixed-use developments, and it will also act as an extension to King’s Cross Square, a new plaza that will be formed between the station’s southern façade and Euston Road.