The transformation of King’s Cross Station for Network Rail has been a complex, multi-phased project. The train shed and range buildings have been adapted and re-used, the station’s previously obscured Grade I listed façade is being restored, and a new, expressive Western Concourse has been designed as a centrepiece and the 'beating heart' of the project. The brief encompassed conversion of the Victorian sub-platform vaults to contain new servicing systems, the creation of a new platform, which required a 200m excavation under the Eastern Range, the upgrade of all other platforms, and a new train shed bridge and vertical circulation, all platform and sub-platform services.
The project’s most significant design and engineering challenge was the creation of the new 8,000 sq m concourse, 120 m wide by 20 m high, designed to accommodate existing and future capacity from 2012. Critical architectural and engineering constraints included the retention of the existing Grade I listed Western Range façades and concurrent construction of London Underground’s concourses and ticket halls beneath the proposed new concourse.
The design of the main structural supports for the Western Concourse matches the irregular subsurface structural grid at key points, and directing significant forces away from the foundations of the Western Range and the Great Northern Hotel, without affecting their historic façades. Sixteen steel perimeter tree-form columns and a central funnel structure support the lightweight steel diagrid shell structure, creating a cavernous space with a dramatic, double arch span. The canopy’s formal elegance optimised modularity and repetition in structural and envelope components, which in turn significantly reduced prefabrication costs and allowed rapid erection.
The concourse transforms passenger facilities, whilst significantly enhancing links to London Underground, train connections at St Pancras, Thameslink, as well as buses and taxis. The concourse is now the architectural gateway to the King’s Cross Central mixed-use developments to the north of the station, as well as a key approach to the eastern entrance of St Pancras International. It will also act as an extension to King’s Cross Square, the new plaza that will be formed between the station’s southern façade and Euston Road.