Carmody Groarke’s temporary restaurant in a former garage.
After a decade of planning and design, developer Argent’s 27-hectare King’s Cross Central project is visibly taking shape, with a curving public boulevard leading from the newly-opened extension to King’s Cross station to the recently restored Granary Building, now occupied by Central Saint Martin’s School of Art. The square in front of the school – touted as London’s largest public space – opened this month. Five office and three residential buildings are under construction. So while some aspects of the development remain in flux – the northern end of the masterplan is likely to be tweaked to reflect changing market condisions – enough is now in place for attention to shift from planning to place-making. Among a number of initiatives intended to familiarise Londoners with this new piece of the city is The Filling Station, a canal-side restaurant conjured from the bones of a former petrol station by architect Carmody Groarke.
It stands on the eastern edge of the development, at the junction of Goods Way and York Way, opposite the new headquarters of the Guardian newspaper, and a diagonal hop across the canal from Central Saint Martin’s.
The restaurant is operated by Bistrotheque, which worked with the same architect to create a pop-up restaurant on the roof of the Westfield shopping centre car park, adjacent to the Olympic site, while it was under construction (AT210). That project was extant for a matter of weeks, however, while The Filling Station is intended to remain for at least two years.
Like its predecessor, the restaurant is constructed from humble, inexpensive materials intended for use elsewhere at the end of the project’s life. The retained petrol station is wrapped in a 200-metre-long scalloped curtain of four-byone-metre panels of GRP with strips of ply at the joins. The panels are supported by a skeleton of scaffolding. Their translucency means that the building glows from without during the day and from within at night. The enclosure is only open on the building’s canal side, where it reveals the 50-cover restaurant – Shrimpy’s – within the former garage kiosk. The larger covered outdoor space will be used for a programme of cultural events.
The London-based office was established in 2006. Key projects include the 7 July memorial in Hyde Park.
Architect: Carmody Groarke; design team: Kevin Carmody, Andrew Groarke; concept: Pablo Flack, Office of Change.
First published in AT229, June 2012