| Author: Petros Kailis
| Tutor: Kenneth Fraser
| Nottingham Trent University
| Project Report:
The site is an ex-industrial and institutional area to the North of King’s Cross in London. King’s Cross has a rich, strong and bright past. It is London’s key infrastructural intersection of rail, canal and road. This can be seen today in the older buildings, the outline of the streets, and the communities that are based in this area. History is in the fabric of King’s Cross. However, nowadays, the identity of Kings Cross is in transition and there is a gradual removal of the indigenous community and the historical presence of the place. Many buildings are derelict, imminently to be the prize of developers, which impacts on local communities whose residents have lost opportunities for local work.
The main intention of this live-work space project is to safeguard the site by reacting to London’s persistent housing crisis and the sterilizing ‘land grab’ by housing developers in the area. The lease of the site is currently in private ownership, however, the freehold is held by Camden council who have a duty to examine any offer for a ‘community asset transfer’. Therefore, a proposal for an artist’s cooperative can compete favourably with a commercial developer’s bid. The proposal further focuses on speculating on a typology for artists and craftsmen who have chosen to live and work together. The specific typology emphasizes the increasing domesticity of artistic production and attempts to show how it is no longer possible to confine work activities within the space of a ‘studio’ or the workplace.
Today, when work is no longer confined within the nine-to-five schedule, it seems difficult to maintain the illusion that the domestic sphere is a refuge from the reality of production. With the rise of freelance work, the domestic space has become a new kind of integrated workspace: the kitchen and the living room, even the bedroom, besides being traditional sites of ‘home-work’, become an improvised office or studio.
The proposal challenges this vision of domesticity, by putting forward a space that is generic and thus goes beyond the distinction between living and working. Creating a micro-community in a building, the programme gives the opportunity to people to have an individual work unit or a shared working space. Giving flexibility to people and families, the programme of the proposal will host three different types of living working units.
The buildings form is followed by the logic that the most of the spaces can receive daylight and have more views to the key aspects of the site. So, the lower part of the building is located on the south of the site and is raising until the north which has the highest point on the design.
Exposed cast iron is employed to make the structural skeleton and a facade that responds to the rail and industrial heritage of King’s Cross. A building that maintains and stimulates the history of the area, rough and patinated, factory built and contrary to the current trend of ‘New London Vernacular’ normalisation. The canal programmes give the possibility of a connection to the now pastoral myth of narrow boating, a retro-futurist boatyard and haven for the transient community of hipster boat owners and travellers on the regent canal.
The building is completed with the cast iron panels being a part of a prefabricated unitised wall system. The chosen type of wall construction gives the advantage of less waste material, more safety on site and better aesthetic of the design.