22 Handyside Street for King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership is the latest completed building at the 67-acre King’s Cross estate. It is a luminous, 36,000+ sqft office building.


A study in making a unique, commercial building that considers the health of its users, the building targets BREEAM Outstanding. We have taken a holistic approach to explore how the mass and skin of architecture can create shadow and light, and how those elements affect and engage the building’s users, ultimately improving their everyday lives.


The building’s form is determined by three factors: the position of the sun, the site perimeter and the site’s structural grid. Like its neighbouring building, the King’s Cross Sports Hall, 22 Handyside Street sits above Grade II-listed mainline and underground railway tunnels, meaning it needed to be super lightweight. Responding to these elements, Coffey Architects shifted the three-storey building diagonally. This helped balance the weight of the building whilst improving the orientation for heat gain, directional flow and outward views. The composition creates civic elevations to York Way and Handyside Street and effortlessly generates an expressive corner between.



Will Colthorpe, Partner of KCCLP, comments, “It’s been a brilliant journey from design competition to completion. Many of us have been up to see the building early in the morning to watch the autumn sunrise reflecting in the façade – it’s one of those truly magical moments and the concept has been absolutely nailed. The decision to lay the building out on a raked grid was an early masterstroke in the design and, combined with the vaulted ceiling, the finished space internally is pretty stunning.”


King's Cross' Grade II-listed mainline and underground railway tunnels led us to rethink the orientation of the building.

Introducing the Diagonal

Skewing the building balanced weight, improved views and created a unique composition.


22 Handyside Street is built of lightweight concrete and steel, with a façade composed of glazed curtain walling and embossed and perforated anodised aluminium panels. These silver sections enliven the building both inside and out, artfully reflecting the trees of Handyside Gardens and adding depth to the elevation. The material maximises ambient light levels and reflects the rhythmic colours of the London sky throughout the day. The main east/west axis along Handyside Street creates filigree moments of light at sunrise and sunset.


The ground, first and second floors all have very different feelings thanks to scale and dynamic light. Naturally lit by a triangular rooflight, the sculptural, central stair connects the three different levels. The stair is clad in black Valchromat that, with its light absorbing properties, creates a contrasting, compressing experience for the users before they enter the generous and bright spaces. 


Behind the patterned façade, its interior spaces are lit with naturally dappled light, enhancing wellbeing for those working in the building. The CNC cut panels are sandwiched with either a solid, transparent or translucent skin. Respectively, the cut light and accompanying shadows are blocked out, cast shadows on the floor, or, extraordinarily, throw shadows onto the opaque vertical glass. These efforts create a moving wallpaper of light within the office floor.


The building’s pitched roofline carries the light industrial aesthetic of the fringe King’s Cross buildings to create a generous double height space on the top floor. Soaring to a remarkable 22 ft, together with the informal diagonal voids, this floorplate has the sense of a gallery-like space.


Being conscious of the movement of the sun improves our health and concentration; it reconnects us to our circadian rhythms. This building's orientation, cleave, percolation and shine quite literally reflect our approach to making a bright building that is striking in its form but also considered carefully in terms of tenant wellbeing. With the creation of a building that is both good to work in and expressive to the city, we continue to explore connecting users viscerally to their environment through the manipulation of light.


A variety of different models, in varied materials and masses, were made to test the design possibilities.


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.

1 Clear Glazed Panel
2 Solid Panel
3 Translucent Panel


The perforated panels add depth to the elevation, provide shading and let intriguing, dappled light into the building. Here we explore how the patterned shadows will display during summer, equinox and winter.


Concept sketches of 22 Handyside Street made with and in the light of the place.

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