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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Central Saint Martins in London, UK by Stanton Williams Architects

 
April 11th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Stanton Williams Architects

To the north of King’s Cross and St Pancras International railway stations, 67-acres of derelict land are being transformed in what is one of Europe’s largest urban regeneration projects. The result will be a vibrant mixed-use quarter, at the physical and creative heart of which will be the new University of the Arts London campus, home of Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design.

Image Courtesy Hufton+Crow

  • Architects: Stanton Williams Architects
  • Project: Central Saint Martins
  • Location: Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London, N1C 4AA
  • Project Value: £200M (based on cost of land, building, fit-out and expansion incl. third floor)
  • Construction Start date: January 2008
  • Completion Date: April 2011
  • Date of Occupation: August 2011
  • Construction phase: January 2008 – August 2011 (Incl. fit-out)
  • Student arrival: 3rd October 2011
  • Gross Internal Area: approx. 40,000m2

Image Courtesy Hufton+Crow

Design team

  • Site Developer: Argent
  • Tenant: University of the Arts London
  • Architect: Stanton Williams
  • Structure: Scott Wilson
  • Environmental / M&E engineering: Atelier 10
  • Architectural lighting: Spiers and Major
  • Quantity Surveyor / Employer’s Agent: Davis Langdon
  • Landscape Architect: Townsend Landscape Architects.
  • Facade consultant: Arup Facades Engineering
  • CDM coordinator: Scott Wilson.

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Contractor team – base build

  • Main contractor: Bam Construction Limited
  • Contractor’s Architect: Bam Design (new buildings) / Weedon Partnership (Granary)
  • Conservation Architect: Richard Griffiths Architects
  • Structure: Bam Design (new buildings) AKS Lister Beare (existing structure)
  • M&E engineering: Bam Design
  • Fire consultant: Aecom
  • Acoustic consultant: Sandy Brown Associates
  • Access consultant: All Clear Design

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Contractor team – fit-out

  • Contractor: Overbury
  • Interior fit-out Architect: Pringle Brandon
  • M&E consultant: AECOM
  • Fire consultant: AECOM
  • Theatre consultant: Drama by Design
  • Acoustic consultant: Sandy Brown Associates

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Stanton Williams’ design for the new campus unites the college’s activities under one roof for the first time. It provides Central Saint Martins with a substantial new building, connected at its southern end to the Granary Building, a rugged survivor of the area’s industrial past. The result is a state-of-the-art facility that not only functions as a practical solution to the college’s needs but also aims to stimulate creativity, dialogue and student collaboration. A stage for transformation, a framework of flexible spaces that can be orchestrated and transformed over time by staff and students where new interactions and interventions, chance and experimentation can create that slip-steam between disciplines, enhancing the student experience. The coming together of all the schools of Central Saint Martins will open up that potential.

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The design aims to maximise the connections between departments within the building, with student and material movement being considered 3-dimensionally, as a flow diagram North to South, East to West, and up and down – similar in many ways to how the grain was distributed around the site using wagons and turntables. King’s Cross offered a unique opportunity: a large site within what promises to be a creative and cultural hub, connected (via King’s Cross Station and the restored St Pancras International) not only to the rest of Britain but also to mainland Europe, plus the chance to develop a robust contemporary architectural response to the boldness of the existing buildings on the site.

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The Granary Building itself has been restored as the main ‘front’ of the college, facing a new public square that steps down to the Regent’s Canal. The building was designed in 1851 to receive grain from the wheat fields of Lincolnshire, unloaded here from railway wagons onto canal boats for onward transport to the capital’s bakeries. It comprises a solid, six-storey cubic mass, with an unadorned, 50-metre wide brick elevation, extended to 100-metres by office additions flanking the building. To the north, located one to each side of the Granary Building, are two parallel 180 metres long Transit Sheds. The design strategy retains the Granary Building, adapted to include functions such as the college’s library, while the Eastern Transit Shed behind is converted to create spectacular workshops for the college. Within the street-level openings of the Western Transit Shed, new shops and bars will add further life to the area. The historic horse stables below the Eastern Transit Sheds have been transformed to new cycle stores for students and staff.

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The bulk of the college’s accommodation, however, is located in a major addition to the site, two substantial new studio buildings that occupy the space between the two transit sheds and which, at the North end of the site present a contemporary elevation to the surrounding area. The scale of the new addition responds closely to that of the Granary Building, essentially continuing its massing along the length of the site. It rises above the level of the transit sheds, using contemporary materials so that it will stand, beacon-like, as a symbol of the college’s presence within this rapidly-evolving part of London. The two new four storey studio buildings are arranged at either side of a covered central ‘street’, some 110m long, 12m wide and 20m high, covered by a translucent ETFE roof and punctuated by a regular rhythm of service cores that accommodate lifts, stairs and toilets. At the northern end, a new centre for the Performing Arts will house a fully equipped theatre complete with fly-tower as well as rehearsal and teaching spaces.

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The internal ‘street’ has been conceived as a dynamic area, an arena for student life, akin to the much-loved stair at the centre of the college’s previous main building. Bridges linking the various cores and workspaces cross it, offering break-out areas for meeting, relaxing and people-watching and exchanging ideas. The street will be used for exhibitions, fashion shows and performances, the spaces being large enough to build temporary pavilions for example. Viewing points allow students to watch others working or performing, and the work of other disciplines can be seen and exhibited.

Image Courtesy Hufton+Crow

At the southern end of the new block and running parallel with the north end of the Granary Building is a second covered ‘street’, offering public access through this part of the building interior. Lifts rising through this space recall the vertical movement of grain, which gave the complex its original purpose. Flooring details either retain existing turntables or hint at their historic location, while within the Granary Building itself, the hoists have been retained, crowning a newly inserted lightwell. Simple glazing maintain the integrity of the unbroken openings, rhythmically punctuating the Granary Building’s main façade.

Image Courtesy Hufton+Crow

The new University of the Arts London campus is one of the first parts of the King’s Cross development to be completed. As such, it not only provides Central Saint Martins with the flexible and dynamic spaces that it needs to educate and develop the artists and designers of the future, but also makes a firm statement of the role of the Arts in the quarter, to which it will give critical mass and energy.

Image Courtesy Hufton+Crow

Image Courtesy Hufton+Crow

Image Courtesy Hufton+Crow

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