Placemaking: R7 King's Cross combines work and community

Richard Gilham
The transformation of King’s Cross has brought several notable buildings, but none quite as eye-catching as R7

The distinctively pink R7 building is part of the major King’s Cross regeneration scheme by developer Argent, north of the station on former marshalling yards and goods tracks. Since 2006, a masterplan by Allies and Morrison and Porphyrios Associates has been steadily taking shape, situating R7 among Granary Square and its fountain space, Pancras Square, and the new Google HQ. Granary Square became the new home for the world-famous art school Central Saint Martins, setting the tone for the district’s vibrant cultural mix when it opened in 2011.

Few sites have the scale, central location and transport links (Gateway to Europe and to the UK north) of King’s Cross.

Argent’s successful place-making has created a credible destination in which to live, work and socialise.

The bars, restaurants and external spaces are already hugely popular, and the retail quarter will be completed in 2018 with the opening of the Coal Drops Yard. This masterplan sets the benchmark for many other developments, including the future regeneration of Canada Water and Euston station.

Located on the new Handyside Street, a short walk from King’s Cross station, R7 was designed by Duggan Morris Architects. The building exterior’s two shades of pink echo the bricks of the ornate 19th-century St Pancras Hotel, at the southern edge of the regeneration scheme area. A mixed-use building, R7 offers 155,079 sq ft of office space over 10 floors with 17,000 sq ft of space at ground level. A variety of shared spaces, encouraging collaboration and community, have been integrated. Each floor has its own terrace and all have access to the 260 bike spaces in the basement, together with showers and changing facilities. There’s also a 6,000 sq ft communal roof terrace on the ninth floor with uninterrupted views over the Goods Yard and Central St Martins.

Office flexibility was a key design driver, to make the building appropriate for any sector. Each office floor-plate can be split into four different demises, facilitating more flexible letting areas if the market dictates. Large and small soft spots have been built into each floor-plate to allow private circulation via internal staircases/balconies between floors, encouraging end-user collaboration. Part of R7’s brief was to contribute to the public realm, in tandem with the masterplan’s encouragement of pedestrianised permeability south-to-north through the site. The entrance lobby is a 7m-tall space which cuts up through the centre of the building, linked to an internal ‘street’, a public walkway leading out to the new residential blocks behind.

The aim is to contribute to a sense of community around King’s Cross, blurring the boundaries behind corporate and community space. Designed to stand out from other buildings in the area, R7 aims to attract curiosity, drawing people to come and investigate. Open to the public, this might be the office of the future – actively encouraging people to walk through and celebrate what the building and surrounding area can offer by way of fun and social interactivity. Through the lobby, visitors can access a three-screen Everyman cinema, restaurant, retailers and art space at ground and mezzanine levels. 

Sustainability is a central element of the King’s Cross masterplan, where the environmental, social and economic implications of each development are carefully considered. From its inception R7 has aimed to follow these principles and has targeted a BREEAM Outstanding rating.

Faithful+Gould provided Argent Estates Ltd with early cost planning advice, followed by cost management, Employer’s Agent services and BREEAM life-cycle costing.

Written by