A new grown-up place to shop: Coal Drops Yard
The days when London’s King’s Cross was a seedy no-go zone are long gone (though I can still remember the nerve-jangling walk from the Tube station to the Scala nightclub in the late 1980s). After major redevelopment, the area – now home to the British Library, Central Saint Martins and the Eurostar terminal – has evolved into a cosmopolitan shopping destination. Coal Drops Yard is the district’s latest retail development, designed by Heatherwick Studio around former Victorian viaducts built in the 1850s. The two renovated warehouses are joined together by their slate tile roofs and the result is a beautiful space – and what looks like two buildings kissing.
With its sandblasted brick arches, cast ironwork and cobbled forecourt, Coal Drops retains the original elements of the railway yard, and is situated on the Regent’s Canal right next to the Victorian gasworks (now apartment buildings). If bricks and mortar shopping is to compete with online, this well-designed, open space is a move in the right direction. The new retail quarter houses selected fashion and lifestyle brands including: MHL, Ally Capellino, Tracey Neuls, Universal Works, Cheaney, Wolf & Badger, Aesop and Paul Smith – and there are a couple of handpicked high street stores, such as COS. Food and entertainment come from the likes of Barrafina, the Everyman Cinema and Redemption Roasters. As the name suggests, Coal Drops Yard is where coal was delivered (from the north of England by train), stored and distributed from the industrial revolution onwards. Maybe it’s because I’m a northerner but I do love an industrial setting with a sense of history…
I’ve written about Coal Drops Yard and interviewed designer Tracey Neuls for the FT, read the full feature HERE.