Camley Street Natural Park building takes inspiration from site’s former coal-drops use
London Wildlife Trust has taken the wraps of a new learning and events centre designed by Erect Architecture at Camley Street Natural Park in Camden.
The north London venue, a stone’s throw from St Pancras Station and King’s Cross’ recently regenerated Coal Drops Yard area, will act as a “gatehouse” for the park – which originally opened beside the Regent’s Canal in the 1980s.
Erect Architecture’s new building was inspired by the hoppers into which coal was deposited on the site between the 1860s and the 1960s and is expected to host around 40,000 visitors a year.
The structure’s roof form is a representation of inverted hoppers. The chimneys they form are biodiversity habitats for nesting as part of the centre’s ecology strategy.
Erect Architecture’s design features a large multi-purpose learning space to cater for LWT’s educational programme, along with volunteer facilities and a small office – while a café kiosk serves internal and external areas. The architect said the building’s spaces were intended to be easily adaptable for hiring out, so they can host paid-for events such as weddings and conferences.
The timber-frame building has wood-fibre insulation that allows its skin to breathe. The natural stain applied to its larch cladding cures and darkens through exposure to weather, reducing the need for maintenance.
Its northern arrival space was designed so that a large marquee can be rigged against the building for occasional additional event capacity. The café kitchen serves into open space by the canal as well as into the multi-functional hall.
Camley Street’s new centre was paid for with £1.35m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, plus further support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Thames Water, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Taurus Foundation.
Ash Construction was contractor for the project.