Thursday31 July 2014

Central Saint Martins by Stanton Williams

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Stanton Williams’ transformation of a Victorian granary into a campus for Central Saint Martins College of Art & design has made inventive reuse of original features.

Architect Stanton Williams
Location Eastern Goods Yard, King’s Cross, London
Completion date August 2011

At the height of the Victorian boom, a collection of industrial buildings to the north of London’s King’s Cross station and Regent’s Canal formed a major goods interchange enabling raw materials to be transferred between rail, road and canal. The most notable was the brick, cast-iron and timber. Granary designed by Lewis Cubitt in 1851 to store sacks of Lincolnshire grain.

The imposing six-storey 55m x 31m building is being restored to form the main front of the University of the Arts London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design as part of Stanton Williams’ £110 million (shell and core) competition-winning redevelopment of the site. The scheme, which began on site in 2008, will transform the 5.1ha derelict site into a new 39,000sq m campus.

“Our design draws inspiration from the ambition and scale of its Victorian architectural setting,” says Stanton Williams director Paul Williams, “and introduces a strong contemporary intervention that celebrates the juxtaposition of old and new in its detailing.”

The grade II listed building will be adapted to function as the college’s library and offices and will face onto the new Granary Square leading down to Regent’s Canal.

On either side, the building is flanked by transit sheds, also designed by Cubitt and grade II listed. The two sheds are each 180m long x 25m wide and 7.6m high, and run northwards towards the rear of the site. The architect is converting the eastern shed into workshops for the college, while the developer plans to turn the western shed into shops and offices.

“A sense of history has been retained,” says Williams. “The way we refurbished the old buildings is to keep as many of the pulley systems, harnesses and winches as we could. When you walk through the building, you will be able to understand how it was used in 1851.”

Central Saint Martins section

North-south section

Central Saint Martins plan

Central Saint Martins plan

The space between the two sheds, originally occupied by assembly sheds, will now house a substantial new four-storey concrete building, containing studios and performance spaces arranged around an ETFE-covered top-lit central “street”.

Between this and the Granary building, a semi-external “street” called the east-west link will allow the public restricted access to the college. At the northern end of the development will be a new centre for the performing arts with its own entrance, housing a theatre, rehearsal and teaching spaces.

East-west link

The east-west link lies directly behind the Granary, providing a visual break between old and new, and acting as a public gathering space at the heart of the new campus. The 15m-wide route, increasing to 22m at either end, is covered with a roof that extends out from the new building and stops short of the Granary’s roofline. The remaining space is covered with a “ribbon of glass”.

The solid roof has a steel structure comprising north south primary beams at 4.6m centres supported from the new studio buildings with a metal deck and single ply membrane roof covering. Fabricated mild steel cranked tee beams, fixed to the primary structure, rest on a 200 x 90mm horizontal steel parallel flange channel recessed into the Granary brickwork. The glass “ribbon” is located below the cranked structure and is recessed into a metal lining inserted into the Granary brickwork, to accommodate horizontal movement and to form a waterproof seal.

Daylight is drawn in through three 3.8m-diameter circular apertures in the ceiling, shaped to reflect the railway turntables once found at ground level. The openings are enclosed with transparent ETFE cushions and large architectural lights have been fitted within to illuminate the space at night.
At either end of the link are glazed walls. The primary structure comprises back to back vertical parallel flange channels with a secondary structure of steel tee beams and angles all finished in micaceous iron oxide. The primary skeleton is supported on the new transit shed floor slab producing a columnless space internally. The vertical glass cantilevers off the secondary structural frame, which is set 750mm away from the Granary’s north wall.

This key detail where the new glass/steel meets the old listed fabric is designed to minimise intervention into the listed structure with vertical and horizontal cuts in the brickwork.

Double glazed units are held internally by spider fixings to create an uninterrupted reflective surface, sliding in front of the historic brickwork above the old metal beams.

Axonometric of link structure at Central Saint Martins by Stanton Williams


1. Twin 90 x 90 x 8 RSAs resin anchored within 225 x 112 recess cut into existing heritage wall.
EPDM bonded to glass providing flexible weatherproofed joint.
2. Existing Granary listed brickwork wall.
3. 3.8m x 2.2m silicone-jointed double glazed units comprising an outer pane of 12mm clear toughenedheat soak tested glass, 16mm cavity, an inner pane of laminated 8mm clear heat strengthened glass, 1.52mm clear structural grade PVB and 8mm clear heat strengthened glass.
750mm cantilever at interface of last spider and Granary wall.
4. Primary structure
Back to back 430 x 100 x 64 PFCs spaced 20mm apart on 356 x 368 x 129 UC cranked column fixed to RC slab, finish: Micaceous iron oxide.
5. Secondary structure frame
152 x 229 x 30 tee chamfered to meet 120 x 120 x 10 RSA along edge, finish: Micaceous iron oxide.
Braced with 89 x 5 CHS, grade 316 stainless steel.
6. 405 x 115mm glulam truss.
7. Stainless-steel spider bolted to fabricated stainless steel horse-shoe bracket and threaded boss.
8. 405 x 115mm glulam truss.
9. Eastern Transit Shed roof build up
Rigidal Ziplok 477 aluminium standing seam profile micro matt smooth finish, fixed to nylon thermahalters on membrane and 200mm mineral wool insulation. 10mm acoustic mat to achieve required sound reduction.
Halter on barrier pad fixed to sub purlin fixed back to steel metal profiled deck, double span.
Internal finish: plywood sheet.
10. Internal plywood lining coated to achieve a minimum of Class 1 Surface Spread of Flame.
11. Vertical thermal break.
12. Double glazed unit.
13. Fritted double glazed unit, silicone jointed.
14. Reclaimed brickwork.
15. Existing Eastern Transit Shed listed brickwork wall.
16. Existing steel “runway” beam refurbished and repainted.
17. 650mm-deep, RC-coffered first floor slab with 100mm insulation and 75mm concrete topping with powerfloated finish.

The granary building

Granary building after refurbishment

Granary building at Central Saint Martins after refurbishment by Stanton Williams.

The movement of two wall climber glass lifts up the north elevation of the Granary building recalls the vertical movement of grain being transported into the warehouse. To accommodate the new lifts, a vertical central incision was cut into the brickwork running the full height of the building in which the lifts operate.

When the Granary was built for storing grain, there was no need to draw in daylight. Its new use as the college’s library and offices requires as much daylight as possible. This has been achieved by inserting a light-well into the middle of the building together with flush glazing and robust metal linings to the south elevation, which maintains the integrity of the unbroken openings and rhythmically punctuates the building’s main facade.

The original timber loading-bay doors were removed from the Granary’s front elevation to the building’s interior and fixed to either side of the window openings on the same elevation.

Tenant University of the Arts London, Landlord King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership, Development & asset manager Argent, Architect Stanton Williams, QS Davis Langdon, Main contractor Bam Construction, Contractor’s architect Bam Design and Weedon Partnership, Concept structural engineer Scott Wilson, Concept environmental engineer Atelier Ten, Concept facade consultant Arup Facades, Concept lighting consultant Speirs & Major, Cladding subcontractor Mero-Schmidlin (UK), Structural steelwork subcontractor B&K Structures, Glass supplier Polypane


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