Demolition Of King’s Cross Canopy Begins

Work to remove the much-maligned canopy that stands in front of King’s Cross station began yesterday.

Built in the early 1970s as a temporary structure (it has required a renewed planning approval each year from Camden council), the green-tinted eyesore has lingered like an unwanted house guest ever since, offering a dour countenance to arriving or departing passengers. Yet its time has long been marked: a new concourse opened earlier this year, and the front of the station where the canopy sits is to be turned into a huge new public square, in the process opening up the beautiful façade of Lewis Cubbit’s Grade 1-listed 1852 station. Work is expected to be completed in autumn 2013.

The move is a welcome one, albeit with one caveat. A little to the north of King’s Cross lies Granary Square, a new “public” space that is in fact yet another zone controlled by its own private security firm and its own set of rules; the aim being to foster a business-friendly environment, one in which malcontents can be swiftly removed from. The new square at King’s Cross will be part of the same zone, and subject to the same arbitrary laws. Most visitors won’t care a jot, but the gradual erosion of truly public space in the capital remains a major concern, something we highlighted in this year when we mapped ‘private London’.

While demolition work is underway, passengers will be obliged to depart the station either via York Way or through the new Western concourse.

All photos copyright Network Rail.

See also:

How the new King’s Cross concourse was designed 12,000 years ago

Tags: , ,

  • http://twitter.com/rayallger Ray Allger

    The Ugly Green façade of Kings Cross certainly won’t be missed. It was ugly enough before the completion of the work at St Pancras, now it looks even worse. Opening up Kings Cross is a great plan, but as the article says, it won’t be a truly public space which is an issue. There are fewer and fewer of these spaces left, no doubt Camden Council were more than happy to hand it over to a private firm, means they won’t be held responsible for the actions of these private firms that are more often than not a law unto themselves, as the clamping fiasco quite often proves.

    • HoosierSands

      I don’t think this area was owned by L B Camden. Probably Network Rail or the DoT

  • Loco2

    It’s a pity that the “public” space will be private, but it’s fantastic that domestic as well as international train travellers will be greeted with a better first impression, a station to match the grandeur of the renovated St. Pancras International.

  • Sean | York Way

    The privately managed space you refer to north of the stations now provides public access to what was previously private land i.e: better access to the space for the public than before. The standard of this space is very good – green, clean and safe. Something Camden struggles to achieve with its public realm. There are better and safer places for people with alcohol and drug addiction than sitting in front of KX station and if privately run space means more resources to deal with these concerns, then we welcome this.

  • Bernard

    Cannot wait to see this project completed, it promises to look stunning!

  • http://twitter.com/leewilshire Lee Wilshire

    As some of the other discussion threads point out, yes the erosion of public space by pseudo-public ones is a concern, however in this case I think it is a little misdirected.

    The space the ‘public’ square replaces here is the station concourse (under the horrible green canopy) which is obviously owned and managed by Network Rail and follows their arbitrary or otherwise rules. So in that sense although it is private it is perhaps more of a publicly accessible space than now.

    Secondly I believe Camden have actually retained ownership of the primary roads within the King’s Cross development, which is a small concession but is in my eyes something of a baby step in the right direction with privately funded developments owning and controlling the whole of the urban realm.

  • camrovia

    Standing in front of the newly exposed original facade recently, I could not believe my eyes. I had thought the project intended to reinstate the original facade to its former simple statement. A massive new steel framework for a new canopy has been erected right across the lower arches completely destroying the harmony of the original facade. The crass insensitivity of architects and developers has been demonstrated on most of London’s main stations. St Pancras had to be saved by a poet. But at Kings Cross, here we go again.