King’s Cross is now firmly established as one of London’s most vibrant business locations and arguably one of Europe’s most successful regeneration projects writes Vincent Burke.

The 67-acre development is now home to leading international and UK companies including Google, Facebook, Sony Music and Nike. The formerly derelict railway and industrial site boasts nearly 3 million sq ft of office, retail, food and drink and leisure space, providing 18,000 jobs, many in the creative, digital and knowledge-based sector.

Around 42,000 people live and work on the regenerated site which has also become one of the capital’s leading visitor destinations, with 26 acres of parks, gardens and other public space to enjoy. Granary Square in the heart of the development has welcomed more than 41 million public visits since it opened in 2012.

The site’s commercial status will be further strengthened when Google opens its massive UK headquarters there in 2025. The new HQ – dubbed a ‘landscraper’ because it is as long as the Shard is tall – will reportedly accommodate some 4,000 employees and contain a 25-metre swimming pool, as well as basketball and tennis courts.

The area is also an increasingly important centre for culture. Chief among the local attractions is Kings Place, which recently marked its fifteenth anniversary.
Kings Place combines a modern arts centre with office space, being home to The Guardian newspaper. It was the first cultural building to be built in the King’s Cross quarter and was created by Parabola Land, led by Peter Millican OBE. The rest of the site was mostly regenerated by property developers Argent.

Millican had wanted to create a building that was part arts and part office. At the time, new City blocks were going up with the public excluded and he was determined to make his building open to anyone. Kings Place achieves that mix with a wide range of people using it. As well as office workers, it hosts schoolchildren, mothers and babies, artists and musicians and numerous visitors.

Emerging artists
Since opening in 2008, Kings Place has become a centre for performing arts innovation and developing emerging artists. The venue hosts a diverse range of festivals and cross-arts collaborations across many genres including classical, contemporary, jazz and folk music, together with spoken word events and live podcasts.

Kings Place also plays a central role in the life of the local community. It regularly donates rehearsal and performance space and facilities for training and mentoring sessions to numerous music and theatre charities and other local organisations.

2024 will see Kings Place host a year-long series of events called Scotland Unwrapped, celebrating Scottish music and spoken word culture to highlight Scotland’s traditional and regional riches. Scotland Unwrapped embraces cutting-edge contemporary composers, folk musicians and classical performers and leading figures in the Scottish literary scene. Artists appearing during the season include folk singer Julie Fowlis, percussionist Evelyn Glennie and choral ensemble The Sixteen.

Speaking ahead of Scotland Unwrapped, the executive and artistic director of King’s Place, Helen Wallace, said the venue was the ideal location for such an event as it benefits from having intimacy at the heart of its design which creates fine acoustics. Wallace explained that the main concert hall was sheathed in oak, making for excellent sound insulation, resonance and warmth.

Vincent Burke is a communications consultant, podcaster and film-maker