The story behind the building
The redesigned warehouses of Coal Drops Yard are a perfect intersection of past and present. Buildings in constant evolution: from coal store to nightclub to contemporary space. They’ve come a long way since the dark days of Victorian London…
In the 1850s, the capital was a smoky coal-powered city, and the
drops at King’s Cross were constructed to process this vital fuel.
Trains entered the long galleries, dropping their loads through holes
to the lower levels.
Years later the handsome structures became abandoned and, in the late
1980s, UK rave culture began. Sound systems moved in, rattling the
rusting ironwork and waking the crumbling warehouses. Three floors
shook every Saturday night under the feet of 2,500 clubbers at
legendary venue, Bagley’s.
Today we see the building’s latest reinvention. Heatherwick Studio’s new architectural design links two brick and cast-iron constructions with rising gabled roofs, reaching to meet each other seamlessly in the middle. The restoration was sensitive to the listed Victorian structures and cobbled courtyard. At COS, we took the same approach in-store, balancing a calm, modern aesthetic with surviving industrial details.
Orbits: the centrepiece of the
London-based artist Paul Cocksedge has created the first sculptural installation that will form the centrepiece of the Coal Drops Yard space. Orbits explores the tension between opposing forces, where rocks taken from the earth hang weightlessly in the air, suspended by hoops of fluorescent light. Precarious and uncertain, the work contrasts the rawness of the organic with the precision of the artificial.
To create these rings, Paul’s team first selected hunks of raw marble and sandstone, then set to work on the light hoops, which needed to be flexible enough to stretch like rubber bands under the weight of the rocks.
“Using gravity to shape the piece was a joy,” says the artist. “Instead of imposing form onto the material, you're allowing it to show you what it would do naturally. We were exploring methods we've not used before: stonework, metal rolling, polishing, LED technology. And I'm not sure many people have ever used them like we have.”
“The piece tells a story with its quietness. That feeling of motion, without movement, is quite compelling. And there's also something calming about it, which works well in a busy space like King’s Cross. The message should float to you.”
In conversation with Paul Cocksedge
To mark the opening of our new store, we hosted an evening with the designer.
Chaired by Johanna Agerman Ross, Founder of Disegno and Curator of Furniture and Product Design at the V&A, Paul Cocksedge talked about his work Orbits, a site-specific, sculptural light installation.
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A platform for artists
A platform for artists Alongside the installation by Paul Cocksedge, Coal Drops Yard also features a platform for emerging artists. We want to support creativity around the world, which is a source of constant inspiration. The ongoing exhibition will showcase all kinds of work, from large-scale installations to sculpture, paintings, ceramics and digital art.
Artists currently on display at Coal Drops Yard:
• Sophie Smallhorn
• Thirza Schaap
• Sam Henning
• Ronan Bouroullec
• Jeroen Wand
• Lauri Hopkins
• Charlotte Culot