Gasholders, London


King’s Cross is the largest urban development scheme in Europe. Its rich industrial heritage is integral to its renaissance. Among the most distinctive and beautiful features to be retained is the triplet of Grade II-Listed, cast iron gasholder guide frames which were originally constructed in 1867.


WilkinsonEyre won a design competition in 2002 with a concept for three residential buildings to be housed within the frames. The design proposed three drums of accommodation at differing heights to suggest the movement of the original gasholders, which would have risen up or down depending on the pressure of the gas within. A fourth, virtual drum shape, at the centre forms an open courtyard, celebrating the conglomeration of the structures at their point of intersection.

Courtesy of © Chris Wilkinson



The design was developed to create a dynamic counterpoint between old and new. The heavy industrial aesthetic and raw physical materiality of the guide frames contrasts with the lightness and intricacy of the interior spaces. The circular nature of the buildings result in apartments that are laid out to take advantage of natural daylighting, a "pie" shaped configuration with expansive views.

© Matt Brown


The walls encircling the central courtyard are clad with precast Ductal® panels in pale gray with a fine vertical rib texture. Walkways connecting the blocks are slung off the wall on three levels, and break up the vertical space.
The 180 Ductal® panels have a self-finished Reckli rubber mold that give them their texture. The ground floor panels were underslung and were transported into place using specially fabricated trolleys.
Cladding is composed of modular vertical steel and glass panels textured with a veil of shutters, which can be adjusted at the touch of a button. The vision for Gasholders balances the functional requirements of modern living with innovative technologies, whilst celebrating the character of the triplet.
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