Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross

Thomas Heatherwick’s addition to King’s Cross is essentially a retail development but really it’s much more than that. A testament to both old and new London, it’s worth visiting for the architecture alone. The site comprises two 19th-century coal warehouses that have retained their nostalgic brickwork and rough-around-the-edges look. But their gabled roofs are now joined by a colossal extension of glass and slate – the latter sourced from the same Welsh quarry that was used for the original warehouses – that soars over the courtyard below like a pair of wings. 

King’s Cross, N1C 4DQ 

Barbican, City of London

The act of rebuilding London after the Second World War saw many great developments spring up but none quite so fine as the Barbican. The complex – which includes residences, schools, a museum and an arts centre – took 20 years to build across the 1960s and 1970s and was masterminded by architects Chamberlin, Powell & Bon, who also designed the Golden Lane Estate next door (equally worth a look around). The Barbican is one of the most successful examples of brutalism; perhaps no surprise bearing in mind it took the architects seven drafts to come up with the final vision (at one point a glass pyramid was mooted). Design-minded visitors should also pay attention to its branding, courtesy of London agency Studio North, and book in for one of the regular tours to properly discover what makes this development so unique.

Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS 

Riba building, Fitzrovia

The home of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) on 66 Portland Place was completed in 1934 after a competition to mark the organisation’s 100th anniversary. The winning entrant was George Grey Wornum’s modernist-meets-classically inspired design. This building is decorated with stylised sculptures and frescoes and is a much-loved landmark in this part of town. The boxy and extravagant exterior belies an interior that is high in art deco charm.

66 Portland Place, W1B 1AD 
+44 (0)20 7307 3888

Images: Ben Quinton, Luke Hayes, Hufton+Crow, Andrew Urwin

Go back: London


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Monocle 24

00:00 01:00

  • The Continental Shift