I exhibited this collection at The Other Art Fair, West Handyside, King’s Cross, 4th-7th July 2019.
The King’s Cross Redevelopment Project is about the renovation of the Kings Cross area and how the new meets the old. Once upon a time, a bustling industrial site by the canal with the railway lines; I admire what we can visualise when, typically in London, space is at a premium.
This previously tired area now boasts smart apartments, bars and restaurants; immediately I judged this to be a very thoughtful redevelopment. Many of the old buildings remain and they have taken care to preserve existing original features.
I am very lucky to be able to visit a unique urban redevelopment right on my doorstep. The King’s Cross Redevelopment Project had a clear objective: Transform a 19th/20th Century industrial wasteland into a desirable residential area without losing any of the characteristics from its history.
For some, this may sound very simple; many buildings from this period are easily and tastefully converted into living spaces. But not this one. The King’s Cross Redevelopment Project had a very large elephant in this living space – Gasholders.
The conversion from original to new that fascinates me most is how they have used the old gasholders (also known as gasometers). Within these cylindrical spaces, architects have visualised two sets of apartments. For balance, they have transformed the third gasholder into a stunning green space and communal seating. Clever usage of reflective panels has been installed, acting almost like mirrors, which enhances the feeling of space.
Why Did We Have Gas Holders?
Back when they were in use in the 19th and 20th Century, these huge metal structures, known as gasometers, stored towns gas. The design provided movement to regulate the gas pressure in the district by sliding up and down. When the country introduced natural gas, the gasholders became redundant. Some of these sites were contaminated and couldn’t be used for many years.
Like most cities urban landscapes, these iconic structures at the King’s Cross Development Project gained protection status as a Grade 2 Listed Structure. This meant that, whatever were to happen on this site, best efforts are made in order to preserve the gasholders.
A challenge for any architect.
Whilst no London regeneration project is ever without controversy—whether regarding its design concept, the level of affordable housing for local residents or preservation of historic buildings— the Kings Cross project has been genuinely transformative. Wilkinson Eyre Architects have taken great care with all aspects of the design; safeguarding for the future as well as protecting the past. You can see more from the architects about this project by clicking here.
What I love about it, is that the design references the site’s strong industrial heritage whilst delivering a completely contemporary example of urban place-making. It seems to me to reflect its future and past at the same moment, and I have tried to capture that perspective and spirit of place in my photography of one of the city’s newest neighbourhoods.
Here are a few examples of the collection:
Taken around late afternoon, spring in bright and dry conditions.
This is one of my favourite shots of the project so far! This image is not a collage; visit this spot and you see what I saw, life happening one side and the train track the other! I spotted this through a window and loved the way a whole second image was floating and perfectly framed and some beautiful shapes kindly created by the sun. It made me smile as I looked into the dark shadowy trees. Nothing is ever what it seems.
Taken early afternoon late summer, dry and bright weather.
I always chose my time carefully and only use natural light as most of the time, this what inspires me. The light and/or form are what I work with and create with when taking the picture and only later is it 15% software! Just a little tweak on the light or emphasise a colour.
Large parts of the Kings Cross project has reflective panels as part of its design and these really inspired me to explore them as they reflect all that has gone before and all that is to come.
The red part is some of an old building in the background. The new panels in front showing the new designs around it. I wanted to again bring out the history, rather than being in the background so I just brightened the red a little and toned down the new. The balance is far more pleasing. I love black and white photography of the past so I thought a blast of red would inject something more into the composition but separate the time.
I felt sad when I saw this wall. An original wall and window with original ironwork and a modern lamp slapped on to it! How does it feel to have your glass changed to some modern colour and be trapped in a wall with no escape! I often say that when I take pictures, I like to give the unseen, unnoticed or ordinary a voice. Give it space and time to show us its true self, so what would this say, is it a loveless marriage, trapped there, would it want to be together forever?
HAPPY EVER AFTER
There is contrast everywhere, whether or not we like it. I like the bright crane here; still steaming ahead with further development against the plain grey metal of the original gasometer structure. Are these structures happy to be revived as opposed to being torn down and given a role again, will it ever be the same, will they all live happily ever after?
You can find more from this collection by visiting Saatchi Art
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