Dezeen Magazine

Peter Cook pans "awful" redevelopment of King's Cross

World Architecture Festival 2015: architect Peter Cook has attacked the redevelopment of King's Cross in London, describing the huge regeneration scheme as "boring, unbelievable, really dour".

Speaking on the first day of the World Architecture Festival in Singapore, Cook told the audience he was "embarrassed" by the 67-acre redevelopment. "It's awful, boring, boring stuff," he said.

After his lecture, he told Dezeen that he found the new architecture at King's Cross "literally embarrassing" and said the buildings resembled "old biscuits".

Campus for Central Saint Martins by Stanton Williams
The campus for Central Saint Martins by Stanton Williams is one of the main anchors for the King's Cross development

"I can't believe it," he said. "It’s so dull, it’s like old biscuits lined up. Terrible. It’s so boring, unbelievable, really dour. It’s so worthy, like somebody wearing a sensible Harris Tweed suit but not a very stylish one. It’s awful."

Cook said the project presented a poor impression of London to visitors arriving in London on Eurostar train services, which pass through the site.

"This is London!" Cook exclaimed. "This is f*cking London. You come in from Paris and that’s the first thing you see."

Peter Cook pans redevelopment of Kings Cross
Maccreanor Lavington's Roseberry Mansions apartment block is one of a number of brick buildings springing up around the King's Cross site

The King's Cross redevelopment involves transforming former railway lands north of the King's Cross and St Pancras stations into a new urban quarter.

The project will involve the construction of 50 new buildings, 20 new streets, 10 new parks and squares and 2,00o homes by 2016, according to the website.

Developer Argent appointed architects Allies and Morrison and Porphyrios Associates to draw up a masterplan for the site, which won planning permission in 2006.

Buildings completed on the site so far include the new campus for Central St Martins art and design school designed by Stanton Williams, apartment blocks by David Chipperfield and Maccreanor Lavington, an office building by Allies and Morrison, student housing by Glenn Howells, social housing by PRP and a freshwater bathing pond.

Heatherwick reveals plans for canal-side shopping centre in London's King's Cross
Thomas Heatherwick recently revealed a design to turn the Victorian coal yards at King's Cross into a shopping centre

Thomas Heatherwick also recently revealed an image of his design for a shopping centre to be built in a former Victorian coal yard, and is also working on plans for a new headquarters for Google nearby. King's Cross rail and underground station was recently revamped by John McAslan, and St Pancras.

Cook was speaking on the first day of this year's WAF, which is taking place this week at the Marina Bay Sands convention centre in Singapore.

Marina Bay Sands development in Singapore by Safdie Architects
Moshe Safdie's Marina Bay Sands development in Singapore was among the projects praised as "heroic" by Peter Cook in his lecture

In his lecture, Cook praised recent architecture in Singapore and described landmark buildings including Moshe Safdie's Marina Bay Sands hotel and Wilkinson Eyre's conservatories at Gardens by the Bay as "heroic".

"Audiences such as us have got bored with the word 'iconic'," he said. "So I’m using 'heroic'."

Cook said that King's Cross didn't need to feature similar "high-jinks" architecture but said: "It seems to be set on being grey and grim. It could be elegant architecture."

School of Architecture, Bond University by CRAB studio
The School of Architecture at Bond University, Australia, by Peter Cook's firm CRAB studio

Cook, 79, was a member of influential 1960s architecture group Archigram and is now co-director of Crab Studio, which he founded with Gavin Robotham in 2006. He won the RIBA Gold Medal in 2004 and was knighted for services to architecture in 2007.

Crab Studio projects include the Abedian School of Architecture at Bond University in Queensland, Australia. The building won the Health and Education category at last year's Inside Festival, which was held in Singapore alongside WAF 2014.