Located in the northern residential quarter of the new King’s Cross redevelopment, beside Regents Canal, Gasholder No. 8 is the largest of the iconic gasholders that once dominated the skyline at King’s Cross. This magnificent heritage structure has undergone a major offsite restoration and been re-purposed as the frame to contain a new award winning public pocket park and event space designed by Bell Phillips Architects, who organized the space as a series of concentric areas with a circular lawn at the center.
Standing beneath a circular, stainless steel colonnade in London’s Gasholder Park, nighttime visitors can witness a solar eclipse every 20 minutes. Speirs + Major clever lighting design creates a dynamic spectacle for both the residents of the surrounding King’s Cross redevelopment and children from a nearby school using LED up lights along the canopy’s perimeter dimming sequentially, simulating the moon moving across the face of the sun.
Surrounding the green space is a hard scaped walkway from which the restored structure of Gasholder No. 8—an 82-foot-tall cylindrical metal frame constructed in the 1850s to hold coal gas—emerges from behind a newly added stainless steel canopy. The architects tasked Speirs + Major, to sharpen the material contrast between the cast-iron gasholder and the internal stainless steel canopy and make the park as alluring and functional at night as it is during the day.
Speirs + Major design integrator Philip Rose says. “The circular layout led us to the idea that we could use light to create both a beautiful nighttime landmark as well as an enlivening immersive experience, inspired by the idea of a solar eclipse,”
Twenty minute ‘eclipse’ cycles begin with all of the lights on, followed by cross fading from east to west over three minutes, a pause of two minutes in darkness (full eclipse) and then a slow east to west cross fade back up to full brightness. This apparent movement of the light creates fabulous shifts in the shadows and inter-reflections from the polished surfaces, gently animating both park and users.
Speirs + Major chose acdc’s MAGNA in-ground fitting with a 5000K narrow-beam up light. The fixtures follow the canopy structure’s architectural rhythm, so that where its columns are positioned more closely together—to provide privacy for the buildings that overlook the park
Even when the canopy fixtures go completely dark as they simulate a total eclipse, the park is never pitch-black, since the gasholder luminaires’ remain illuminated. A pair of acdc MAGNA in-ground 4000K up lights highlights each column and truss that hold the two-level structure together.
Gasholder Park combines the industrial heritage of King’s Cross with contemporary architecture to create a unique space.