Coal Drops Yard is London’s Hottest New Design-led Mall

Two 19th-century warehouses in central London have been playfully remodeled as a design-led mall with a difference.

Located beside regent’s canal, Coal Drops Yard is a new focal point for the King’s Cross area.

There’s a revival gathering steam on the doorstep of London’s King’s Cross station. What used to be a grim wasteland of goods yards and storage sheds is undergoing a multibillion-dollar overhaul that has seen luxury apartments, boutiques, a cinema, and an art school spring up in the last decade. But the hottest new addition is Coal Drops Yard, a post-industrial retail and dining precinct that made its debut in October.

Pyrenean lamb chops at Barrafina.

For its first major project in London, King’s Cross–based Heatherwick Studio was tasked with converting a pair of 1850s warehouses where coal was once stored and transferred. The architects have retained much of the buildings’ Victorian fabric, with the aged cast-iron columns and soot-stained brick given only a light restoration. Now, the most striking feature is the sweeping winged roof (clad in the same blue-gray Welsh slate used for the original) whose two halves rise from the buildings to meet over a cobbled central courtyard.

Inside Tom Dixon’s main showroom.

Tucked within the warehouses’ brick archways is an inspired mix of pop-up stores, independent retailers, established brands, and casual-chic eateries. The former coal office stretching along Regent’s Canal houses not just a lighting and furniture showroom of star industrial designer Tom Dixon but also his firm’s office, workshop, and restaurant. Inside the flagship store of ethical fashion retailer Wolf & Badger, which curates more than 700 emerging labels, newly minted Hicce offers a globetrotting menu by the former head chef at Murano, a Michelin-starred Italian fine-diner in Mayfair. The influential Hart Brothers have opened three venues elsewhere in the complex: The Drop, an all-new wine bar serving up mod-British fare; Mexican taquería Casa Pastor; plus the fourth branch of beloved tapas bar Barrafina (the Soho original holds a Michelin star), this time with a Catalan bent. All told, it’s reason enough to spend a few extra hours at King’s Cross before catching a northbound train.  

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This article originally appeared in the December 2018/January 2019 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Raising The Roof”).

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