Four Pancras Square, designed by Eric Parry Architects on behalf of King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership, is the final building to complete in Pancras Square, at the gateway to King’s Cross. One of eight office buildings in the square, Four Pancras Square has been designed to complement the surrounding urban fabric of the wider King’s Cross development. The 11-storey building offers 176,000sq ft of Grade A office space with ground floor retail; the office has been fully let to music giant Universal Music for occupation in 2018. The use of material, including a striking corten façade, and the structure of the building recall the heroic engineering of the industrial revolution and the railways that enabled the expansion of London, while addressing its keystone position at the head of Pancras Square and delivering a generous, highly sustainable building, rated BREEAM Outstanding to 2014 codes.
Eric Parry from Eric Parry Architects said:
“The idea was to create a resonance between the rugged industrial architecture of the past and the way we can build now. The expressed weathering steel frame is structural rather than merely a decorative cladding. The Vierendeel ‘belt’ running at first floor level picks up the loading of the upper floors to distribute it to the piers at ground level, set at generous centres thus giving a great sense of openness to the base of the building.”
“In my view Four Pancras Square is an example of exceptional engineering, fabrication and construction that references both continuity with the past and an optimism for the future.” The exposed weathering steel structure to the building, which has already oxidised creates a stable protective skin of reddish-brown colour that differs on each elevation in tone and texture, responding to the external conditions of humidity, temperature and wind. Glazed ceramic brise soleil shade the upper levels of the south, east and west façades, these reflect light in contrast to the absorbent patination of the steel.
A one-storey-high Vierendeel truss encircles the building at first floor level, enabling a 27m-long column-free space at ground floor for the reception area and retail units, and creating an important architectural connection between the building and the Square that raises dramatically towards it. An entrance to the north-west corner, off Goods Way, provides direct cycle-lane access to the 206-space bike parking and extraordinary changing room facilities. The generous set back on the west elevation allows a terrace to the cafe and helps enliven this corner as the ground falls away approaching from Pancras Road.
The ten floors above have a clear layout, with a central core to maximise perimeter glazing and daylighting as well as flexibility for the office spaces. All upper floors except for Level 1, have access to an amenity terrace or balcony via sliding doors and offer spectacular sights across the Canal to Granary Square and St Pancras Clock Tower. Levels 2-5 have generous full-width, south-facing balconies while the upper floors at Levels 6- 9 have inset, more sheltered balconies facing north, opening-up views across Camley Street Natural Park, the Regent’s Canal and Granary Square.
The penthouse floor at Level 10 is set back from the main façades on the north, east and south, creating a more generous three-sided terrace. The expressed frame of the building extends up to the roof level, providing a sense of enclosure to the terraces. The roof garden takes advantage of the far-reaching views and provides an outdoor space fully accessible to all users of the building. The garden design is based on the wish for a soft natural roof scape to contrast with the harder ground plane of the development. Eric Parry Architects worked closely with landscape architect, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan to produce such a design. The planting is intended to evoke scrubby moorland with a variety of native grasses, sedges and herbaceous flowering plants including holly, dogwood, field maple and hawthorn stools.
Will Colthorpe, Partner, Argent, said:
“Eric Parry’s Four Pancras Square is a fantastic building and one of the next generation of our office product at King’s Cross. It will be a great home for Universal Music and I’m sure they’ll make great use of the roof gardens. With completion of this building the momentum very much now shifts to the next phase of offices around Handyside Street, neighbouring Central St Martins and Coal Drops Yard, that have already started to complete.”
Four Pancras Square achieved the highest standards of environmental sustainability for a major office development, using a combination of complementary passive and active design features to obtain very low carbon emissions.