The Calthorpe Projectt-sa with designer Charlie Luxton were selected through competition to design a new building for The Calthorpe Project in Kings Cross. The proposal developed through dialogue with Calthorpe staff and users and engaging with several key contextual issues. Balancing the developing needs of The Calthorpe Project to provide financial security via the new facilities and additional community services.
Situated off Gray’s Inn Road, the Calthorpe Project Community Garden is ‘A Green Oasis in the Heart of Kings Cross’, offering a range of important community services to local residents. The proposals comprise of additional community facilities (small office, foyer space, changing rooms), a café at ground floor level, co-working spaces, a community workshop space and a multi-use space for sports and community activities.
The building is part two-storey and part three-storey that responds to urban context ensuring a presence on the busy Gray’s Inn Road and against the imposing Eastman Hospital flank wall without dominating the gardens. The design approach seeks to learn from the successes of the existing Calthorpe buildings and build upon the inviting and approachable, yet robust architecture. Conceived as a gateway to encourage passers by to engage with a new café, exhibition space and the gardens beyond, the building aims to continue the ‘open’ ground floor feel of the existing building which wraps around the inner garden.
Above this, the architecture comprises of simple well-proportioned volumes animated by the varying uses and activities that take place within the carefully composed windows. Indentations with planted sills soften the facade, echoing the green roof of the existing building and the gardens beyond. These elements allow the everyday celebration of views, light, and the relationship to the gardens, ensuring a welcoming, dynamic building animated by its occupation.
Brick was chosen as the main building material to respect for the local Georgian architecture and the surrounding context. The masonry is carefully balanced with the hardwood joinery and metal ironmongery and balustrades to form a calm, elegant yet robust and durable architecture that will add to the heritage of this urban site.