Building Study: Coal Drops Yard, London, by Heatherwick Studio


The retail hub revels in the idiosyncrasies of its original Victorian warehouse architecture, says Ike Ijeh

With the possible exception of Frank Gehry, there aren’t many names in architecture who would be brave or populist enough to make an analogy between their building and a cartoon, but Thomas Heatherwick is one of them. When describing his new Coal Drops Yard at its opening last week, Heatherwick breathlessly described it thus: “It’s like that moment in a cartoon when the two characters slam into each other and all the sparks fly and the energy reverberates around them in shooting, shuddering stars.”

The two characters in question here are the two almost-parallel longitudinal Victorian warehouse blocks that form the Coal Drops Yard retail development in London’s King’s Cross. And the moment of impact is captured in three-dimensional form by the extraordinary roof that joins them like a suspended pool of lava pouring down from an invisible upturned crater above. 

This is premium content

Only logged in subscribers have access to it.

Login or Subscribe to view this story

Gated access promo

Existing subscriber? LOGIN or

Subscribe for unlimited access to:

  • Up to the minute architecture news from around the UK
  • Reviews of the latest buildings from all corners of the world
  • Our monthly digital edition including stunning photos, building and technical studies
  • Full access to all our online archives
  • PLUS you will receive a print copy of WA100 when it is published in December.

Subscribe before January 31st to pay our lowest rate.

Alternatively REGISTER for free access on selected stories and sign up for email alerts