Coal Drops Yard

Regenerating a former industrial site

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Collaborating across the design and heritage sectors to create a boutique shopping destination.

  • Location

    Kings Cross, London

  • Client


  • ACE Member


  • Services

    Project Management

  • Project

  • Delivery date


  • Cost


  • Delivery partners

    Heatherwick Studio, Giles Quarme Associates

  • Project length

    4 years

Collaborating across the design and heritage sectors, Arup regenerated a derelict industrial site into a boutique shopping destination.

Coal Drop Yards was historically used as a coal deposit, storing the bedrock of a rapidly-industrialising Victorian economy. But with the decline of traditional industry, the site was left derelict for a number of years.

Arup first undertook in-depth analysis of the site’s remaining structures, many of which had extensive fire-damage. From this, the team at Arup went about redesigning the site: enabling it to support the demands of twenty-first-century industry, whilst conserving its rich material history.

Through innovative use of 3D printed models, Arup in collaboration with Heatherwick Studio were able to iteratively test different design approaches in an affordable, sustainable way.

The resulting design was praised for its effective melding of the historic redbrick structures with bold modern features, such as a series of large glass panels.

The Coal Drop Yards site now plays host to an array of independent, artisan businesses giving the former coalyard a new lease of life, long after the decline of the coal-powered economy which brought it into existence. 

Coals Yard 1 - consultancy40ImageSlider

Built in Victorian times to help the distribution of coal via the nearby narrowboat canal and on horseback, for many years much of Coal Drops Yard stood derelict and was severely overgrown.

In the 1980s, a large area was gutted by a fire, destroying or damaging the original timber structure with the few surviving cast-iron beams and columns in an unknown condition.

Ed Clarke - consultancy40Quote
The repurposing of the existing Victorian buildings presented a diverse series of engineering challenges. It required a team with strong technical expertise working in the pursuit of the best holistic solutions.

Ed Clarke, director building engineering


The project involved the assessment, strengthening and repair of two historic buildings, East and West Coal Drops, one of which is Grade II listed.

The team combined conservation expertise with the design and construction of modern features including a new roof, suspended floor, an 8m tall folded-glass structure and the addition of three new bridges across the yard.

Morewenna Hall - consultancy40Quote
Arup has been absolutely instrumental in helping us to achieve a world-class design that will not, and cannot, ever be replicated anywhere else and we are extremely grateful.

Morwenna Hall, COO


Coal Drops Yard - consultancy40Video