Coffey Architects were invited to enter the competition to design two new office buildings (with some retail on the ground floor) with high sustainability targets on the King’s Cross redevelopment site. The buildings were to be 11 storeys tall and to carry a strong identity that complemented the local industrial heritage. They should also bring lots of daylight to the interior spaces.
Motivated by our client’s commercial and sustainability drivers, we realized that there were many delivery advantages to creating just one design that could be built twice – hence the ‘Twins’. However, two identical buildings side by side carried risks. Visual repetitiveness and monolithic scale could impair the sense of place and public amenity, throwing planning permission into doubt. It could also damage the development’s commercial appeal.
Pushing the brief constructively, we evolved a simple solution. We could maintain visual interest so long as the buildings were built with an asymmetrical form and at 90 degrees to each other. The resulting configuration is visually complex but symbiotic, each building preserving its own distinct identity. The counterpoint arrangement also creates an unexpectedly engaging space between, a happy serendipity that we exploited to the full.
Echoes of the site’s industrial heritage resonated in the choice of concrete panels made from pulverized fuel ash. The interiors would meet high BCO standards, enlivened with quirky design ideas to create smart, practical, creative workspaces.
From concept, through massing, placemaking, office environment and materiality, the Twins were state-of-the-art offices, perfectly suited to a target market of high-end service-sector companies.