Heatherwick reveals plans for canal-side shopping centre in London's King's Cross

Designer Thomas Heatherwick has applied for planning permission to convert a Victorian coal yard in London's King's Cross into a canal-side shopping destination.

London-based Heatherwick Studio plans to transform the two Coal Drops building next door to the Central Saint Martins school campus, creating approximately 60 shops, as well as restaurants, galleries and music venues.

Named Coal Drops Yard, the 9,300-square-metre project was commissioned by property developer Argent and forms part of the King's Cross Development Partnership (KCDP), which is overseeing the wider redevelopment of the area.

According to Argent, it will "secure the long-term future of the historic Coal Drops buildings" – a pair of brick and cast-iron buildings constructed in the 1850s and 60s to transfer coal from rail wagons to road carts.

"The proposals will establish Coal Drops Yard as a retail destination, with close to 100,000 square feet of shopping, eating and drinking, and events space," said the developer.

Heatherwick reveals plans for canal-side shopping centre in London's King's Cross
Thomas Heatherwick, portrait by Jason Alden

Heatherwick Studio is also believed to be working on the latest designs for Google's new London headquarters, which is part of the same development.

The firm has revealed one image of its proposals for Coal Drops Yard, showing the original cobbled streets and brick arches accompanied by a new bridge link and rooftop extension.

"With its canal-side location, Victorian architecture and beautiful new public squares as a backdrop, Coal Drops Yard is set to become an exciting and unique new shopping destination," said KCDP.

"Shops and cafes will spill out onto the streets and public spaces here. Free from traffic, the area will be buzzing with street life, food stalls and more."

Heatherwick is currently working on several other architecture projects, including a plant-covered Maggie's Centre and the controversial Garden Bridge. He is one of several industrial designers to make the jump to designing buildings, with others including Dror Benshtrit and Maarten Baas.