Thomas Heatherwick celebrates Coal Drops Yard's opening

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This is a special feature about Thomas Heatherwick! I am sure most of you will not need an introduction to the famous designer or his sometimes controversial work and most will know him as the one who brought the new futuristic concept of design to the Coal Drops Yard at King’s Cross. The unique design brought together both the area’s historic elements and modern concepts in a very unique way including the huge new roof, which Heatherwick has said was like uniting a pair of broken Kit Kat fingers. The much awaited new shopping and eating venue opened its doors on Friday 26th October 2018.
Firstly, the main picture (at top of this page) features his entire practice posing in front of the Coal Drops Yard. In the course of these celebrations he told us personally in his own words on that day he had felt the area needed a heart, the two warehouses sitting side by side were totally disconnected and this is why the roof was conceived, giving the place a real heart and a very strong focus – this very unusual approach has been a huge talking point for the past few years and the yard’s opening has been much anticipated – the roof alone makes Coal Drops Yard a very unique place.
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Guy at the back looks at me quizzically… think he was wondering what on earth I was doing! Don’t ask me!
This afternoon, Heatherwick Studios, yes practically the entire staff, all the architects, surveyors, the 3D modellers, who were connected with the scheme paid a visit to the Coal Drops Yard to see at first hand their endeavours and the fact the place had finally opened to the public. Thomas Heatherwick was of course leading the entourage and they had a photo shoot. The basis of this photoshoot follows one Heatherwick Studios had when they were first given the task of leading the designs for the new development. So it was like a before and after with the entire staff in practically the same location.
I organised an impromptu photoshoot too with a couple of ladies from a nearby school. I will expand more on that later, but that’s in a nutshell what happened. I hope the pictures and text will explain some of the story in a bit more detail.
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Thomas Heatherwick, the brain behind (in front of more like!) the famous kissing roofs.
First of all it starts with me seeing all these people gathered in the centre of the Coal Drops Yard itself, and I wondered what was going on. I wandered into the crowd and tried to ask people what was going on and found three ladies who were sort of quite patient with me and explained to me they were all ‘architects’ so I asked ‘from where?’ A little bit of difficulty in communicating ensued however they replied more clearly they were from the studio that designed the Coal Drops Yard. So I indicated ‘you mean Heatherwick?’ And they said yes, and further they indicated he was there and pointed him out to me.
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Photographer on the upper level ready to take a group photo of the Heatherwick entourage.
I’m clumsy sometimes, yes I admit it (look at that man’s reaction!) but I wanted to try and do my best and take pictures of what was going on. I hadn’t come to Coal Drops Yard for a busman’s outing so I went up to Thomas to take some pictures. Yes I was pretty bad at introducing myself or explaining what I was doing – but that’s me 🙂
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Thomas Heatherwick with his family and much of his dedicated staff, many of who contributed to the CDY design.
I brought in two ladies, Eleni and Minara for a photoshoot. They both work at Frank Barnes school which is just round the corner. If you do not know about Frank Barnes, it is a highly reputable school in Central London and is noted for its strong dedication to educating deaf children. A number of the staff are deaf too which is remarkable and this gives the school an unique advantage over other schools that are almost entirely managed by abled/hearing people.
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The unique Coal Drops Yard advert with ‘CDY’ spelt in BSL. Was this because of Frank Barnes school?
The three of us (myself, Eleni and Minara) were surprised Thomas had not known there was such an important school right on the doorstep of Coal Drops Yard! It shows one can live/work in an area and still not know much about it. Eleni and Minara explained to Thomas about the school and the work they do there.
The three of us were intrigued about this because for some weeks in advance the publicity for Coal Drops Yard has included sign language. One of the adverts featured hands signing ‘CDY’ and I personally saw this one in many parts of London, which was quite impressive. Even Bermondsey tube station had one with the sign language.
I think the advertising was commissioned by Argent who are the site’s owners. This advertising has been applauded its uniqueness, its a series of adverts which are great and the designs were by Droga 5. Perhaps someone within Argent or Droga5 knew about Frank Barnes school being next door to CDY thus one of the posters was done with ‘CDY’ fingerspelt in BSL. The picture above shows this.
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Explaining to Thomas about the school near Coal Drops Yard. Minara scrolls through her mobile to find pictures of the school.
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Thomas explaining to Eleni his own philosophy and creative insight for the very unusual roofing design.
Thomas mentioned he thought the area needed a heart. The two warehouses (East side and West side) sat side by side without any real connection and that is why the roof was conceived. Its affectionately named the kissing roofs and give the place a very strong focus. It also provides an all weather connection between the two sides.
Thomas also explained about Samsung who would be taking over the topmost levels within the curved roofs in the new year. He was an extremely easy guy to lip read, in fact a rarity and a huge advantage for the three of us 🙂
What about the photoshoot itself? Well it was a low key affair actually. I arranged this with Thomas and this is one of the shots together with Eleni and Minara.
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Originally I had intended to do a write up on the Coal Drops Yard’s opening but things turned out a bit differently. I have some more posts relevant to the Coal Drops Yard in preparation and at least one of these will look at other aspects of the opening day itself.
Heatherwick Studios – Coal Drops Yard

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