Earlier today I made my way back down south after having spent the weekend in Yorkshire. Arriving by train in the capital I passed through Kings Cross station. I used to be a frequent visitor to Kings Cross when I worked in London about twenty years ago but since living in Reading, it has always been more convenient to travel direct to the north via Birmingham without passing through the capital. When I cycled the Pennine Cycleway back in summer 2009 as a precursor to my longer trip along the Eurovelo 5, I did get the chance to revisit the station – here is my old Trek bike taking a rest on the platform – but I have recollections of the main public areas being shrouded in scaffolding and it hadn’t changed much from the drab, cramped interior space that I remember from the early 1990s.
Today’s visit was a revelation to say the least. London has a new iconic must-see location. Even if you never use trains, it is worth the detour to Kings Cross to see the new concourse that has been built. A stupendous piece of architecture that seamlessly molds the old with the new. A picture speaks a thousand words so I will shut up;
According to the architects, John McAslan and Partners, the lattice-work roof is officially Europe’s largest single-span station structure but here’s the curious thing; when new buildings are unveiled, they never seem to live up to the architectural beauty as displayed in the original design images or, increasingly, computer-generated fly-throughs. This is different. Take a look at the architect’s designs on the Network Rail website and then look at the picture above. I think, for once, they have actually pulled it off; it looks even better now that it’s finished. Go and see for yourself.
While I’ve got the opportunity of talking about how stunning London can be, I also noticed this story today about a group of ‘trespassers’ (the BBC’s choice of words, not mine) who climbed the new Shard skyscraper back in December and took some amazing night-time images from the top. You can see all of their death-defying pictures on their website, Silent UK but again, just as the photos of Kings Cross show, we do have a capital city which, from many angles, is a place of utter beauty.
As part of my training to be an Olympics Games Maker, I have to spend a day down at the Olympic park in East London towards the end of this month where I am looking forward to seeing more of the capital being re-born in similarly spectacular fashion…