The KX Q1 competition brief was to design a new gateway office building to the King’s Cross redevelopment site, activating the public realm along York Way at the same time. It required a strong urban response to enhance public amenity and help to create a sense of place in this historic context, important for planning.


The risk was that the building would be unsympathetic to its context, unwelcoming, and reduce the site’s overall permeability to pedestrian traffic. Our response triumphantly overcomes these hurdles.


In response to below-ground engineering conditions, our building’s mass and form are a creative response to the site’s structural grid, defined by the mainline tunnels of King’s Cross station. Its striking silhouette includes a skewed, pitched roof, providing equal merit to each elevation and a nod to the historic warehouse and train sheds of the area.


The silver, perforated aluminium façade enlivens Q1 inside and out, offering a dynamic “checkerboard” aesthetic and echoing the use of rhythm and articulation seen in neighbouring buildings. Q1’s interior spaces are exceptional as well, including a light industrial aesthetic and ceiling heights on the second floor reaching 6.8m.

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Introducing the Diagonal

From the beginning we were given a fixed skewed grid which had been generated in relation to the listed tunnels below the site. By introducing a diagonal direction to the grid, the site benefits from a direction that improves flow, responds to the orientation and views of the context and gives a natural division of the intended program.

A Gateway

The building creates a gateway to Kings Cross as well as activating the public realm along York Way.

Light-filled and spacious interior

Natural daylight fills the interior while the artificial lighting follows the diagonal direction of the roof pitches creating dynamic and interesting office spaces.

Flexible open-plan office layouts will appeal to a wide range of occupiers seeking a base within the vibrant and well-connected, creative work/life community at Kings Cross.

Explorations of form and light

A variety of different models have been made to test the design and its possibilities.

Manipulated light and shading

The perforation of the facade panels is an abstraction of the trees of Handyside Gardens and other green areas of King's Cross, combined with the diagonal language of the skewed grid. The perforated panels add depth to the elevation, provide shading and let intriguing, dappled light into the building.

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