In 2006, Ian Ritchie Architects Ltd won the competition to create a vision for the public urban realm from the British Library along the Euston Road to York Way concluding with a design framework for an international competition for a new London square at King’s Cross. The proposal defines King’s Cross as an opportunity to create an iconic place in London as both a threshold to London and a place in itself. It has huge potential, although it will have a different character than that offered by Trafalgar Square in London or Times Square in New York. The square would embrace the Euston Road (the historic ring road of London) and the increasing travelling population brought about by the new Channel Tunnel Rail Link terminal at King’s Cross Station and the development of a major educational institution – St Martin’s School of Design – immediately north of the square, as well as housing, theatres, shops and offices.
The proposals extend the ‘square’ over the Euston Road with remodelling of the building footprints and massing on the south side in order to create a humane and a sensible pedestrian-vehicular interaction. A square of a size suitable to its status and proposed population and use will allow different street level characteristics to be established within a larger square. Culturally driven and economically desirable ‘mediatisation’ through the curatorial management of electronic art, billboards, furniture and lighting will reflect 21st century culture in its widest sense within the square. Along with proposals for revised crossings, a kerb line, controlled signage and views from the underground, the intention is to encourage proposals for a beautiful and engaging square.
Pedestrian routes and secondary routes across and from the King’s Cross Square are to be improved to encourage walking and dispersal into the locality and in particular to the nearby, exceptional, world class academic and cultural institutions (eg British Museum, British Library, University of London and University College, and soon). The proposals strengthen the Euston Road and other roads with tree-lined avenues, pedestrian arcades, an integrated lighting and finishes scheme with guidelines for developing the adjacent sites. Detailed sustainability requirements, based on a 2050 scenario for sites adjacent to the Euston Road form an important part of the urban realm guidelines.