PROPERTY: Spectacular fountains provide centrepiece for King’s Cross development close to university

Thursday, 7th June 2012

Pictured middle: An overview of the development at Granary Square that is set to open to the public next week
Pictured bottom: Anna Strongman, of Argent, with Granary Square designer Robert Townshend

Published: 7 June, 2012

TRINITY College Dublin has the famous green that Julie Walters sauntered across in the film Educating Rita; Oxford students enjoy the university’s historic quads; and the Univer­sity of London is set around the Bloomsbury squares.

Now, the University of the Arts in King’s Cross has followed its illustrious counterparts and has opened its very own outdoor space for students to sit and mull over their studies. It was paid for by developers the King's Cross Central Ltd Partnership, who are in charge of rebuilding the entire 68-acre site.

These are the first pictures of the new Granary Square, opening this week, on the doorstep of the arts institute in the heart of the former King’s Cross Railway Lands.

Architects hope the space, measuring about the same size as Trafalgar Square, will give students and the public a new area to meet and enjoy occasional events.

Architect Robert Townshend, from Towns­­hend Landscape Architects, was behind the design. His firm has been responsible for public areas in Spitalfields Market and next to City Hall on the South Bank.

He said the setting provided the perfect place to design a new space for the university.

“You come up the new King’s Boulevard from King’s Cross station and it brings you to a point where you can see the Granary Building,” Mr Townshend said.

“It was all about creating a setting for that. It will be used for large events as well but we really wanted to design a place people would feel comfortable in.”

It boasts a series of fountains that can be programmed to swish about at varying heights and create patterns.

Each jet has its own pump, and two tanks holding collectively 105,000 litres that sit beneath the square.

All water used is recycled, with a spare tank acting as a constant filter to clean the water.

Mr Townshend added: “We’d like to see people coming from all over, laying out their beach towels and spending the day relaxing here.”

Designed by a com­pany called the Fountain workshop, the architects had seen their work in the centre of Copenhagen.

As well as the fountains, they can be turned off to allow large events to use the whole space, or turned down to provide just a trickle of water, creating large, shallow puddles that will reflect the building behind.

The architect has reused tons of granite setts that they have rescued from the site, which was once the major railway cargo route into London.

Larger stone paving slabs, known as Portfrey, have been hewn from Italian quarries.

The designers say they have also honoured the industrial heritage of the site.

Mr Townshend added: “We have put back the old railway lines that were once here, including an engine turntable. We have topped it with glass so you can see the mechanism beneath.”

The square will be open to the public from next week.

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