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.
Conifera: the centrepiece of the space
London-based French architect Arthur Mamou-Mani and his studio created a new site-specific iteration of Conifera for COS Coal Drops Yard – a 3D-printed installation made from renewable resources first introduced at Milan Design Week 2019. The piece explores the future of design, tech and material innovation.
Each 3D-printed brick in the installation is made from PLA – a bioplastic that is fully compostable, created using renewable resources. Two colours are seen in the structure: the translucent sections are PLA in its purest form, whereas the brown hue comes from adding wood pulp.
Fir trees were the source of this wood pulp. The way cones grow naturally on these evergreen trees is reminiscent of how the bio bricks were designed, giving the installation its name: Conifera. The bricks were created through an open-source software, using parametric design to maintain structural stability while optimising the use of materials – essentially using less to achieve more.
A platform for artists
Alongside the installation by Arthur Mamou-Mani, 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:
• Charlotte Taylor
• Chris Wood
• Cody Cobb
• Dermot Russel
• Gareth Hayward
• Xochi Solis
• Haar East
• Jahic & Roethlisberger
• Studio Mieke Meijer
• Wang & Soderstrom