King’s Cross Sports Hall

Versatile community space

BAM has delivered a new community sports hall in the King’s Cross redevelopment. The two-storey facility will eventually include an indoor sports centre, a health and fitness suite and modern changing facilities. Initially, though, it provides a temporary home for Camden’s Construction Skills Centre.

Just a stone’s throw from the disused York Road Underground station and less than ten minutes from King’s Cross station, the striking building features black zinc cladding and wood-framed windows, in a style that consciously reflects the area’s former life as a Victorian and Edwardian transport hub. 

But the remit for project focused on very contemporary issues: ensuring low levels of embodied carbon, minimising the overall weight of the building and creating a versatile multi-functional space. All of which had a significant impact on the choice of construction methods and materials.

Project details

  • Customer: King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership
  • Architects: Stride Treglown
  • Conceptual architect: Bennetts Associates
  • Quantity surveyor: Gardiner & Theobald
  • Project management: Argent
  • Structural engineers: Ove Arup & Partners
  • M&E consultant: E3 Consulting Engineers 

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embodied carbon Fact icon ‘near zero’ 195kgCO2e/m2
Excellent Fact icon BREEAM rating
over Fact icon 2,018m2 (GIA) two floors
BAM built the King’s Cross Sports Hall around a cross-laminated frame and glulam timber columns: a natural, lightweight and carbon-friendly alternative to traditional steel and concrete. 

The black external cladding is inspired by Victorian railway architecture: hinting at the area’s industrial past. Dramatic near-black zinc, joined with striking vertical seams, complements the full-height wood framed windows. 

The angled roof, stepped at regular points along its length, is a further nod to the railway vernacular: inspired by the nearby West Handyside Canopy, a huge Victorian roof structure which is now a thriving events space.

Internally, the timber construction panels have been left exposed. The effect is warm and inviting. But it’s not just about aesthetics: the chosen finishes also make a major contribution to the building’s low embodied carbon target.

Construction without disruption

As with many of the sites in the King’s Cross regeneration, the project was constrained by its location in every dimension. The tight, triangular site is closely bounded on two sides by other buildings and overground railway lines and sidings, and is fronted by the busy A5200 York Way.

Under the building, three live Network Rail tunnels built by the Victorians using traditional brick arch construction run just two-and-a-half to three metres below ground level. This means the building not only has to be extremely strong, but also very light.

“We had to reduce the building’s weight as much as possible, and the answer was to use a steel frame with cross-laminated timber planks – you can’t have anything super heavy,” explains Luka Vukotic, Senior Project Manager at the King’s Cross developer Argent. 

Needless to say, BAM ensured that the tunnels were rigorously monitored throughout the construction period. 

Versatile space

Although the whole building will be dedicated to sport and fitness in the future, the ground floor currently provides a temporary home for the King’s Cross Construction Skills Centre (KXCSC). Operated by the London Borough of Camden, the Centre offers apprenticeships, training and advice to local residents looking for a career in the construction industry.   
Once KXCSC’s new home is complete, the ground floor space will be converted into a community sports hall with space for four badminton courts, a basketball court, a volleyball court or a five-a-side football pitch. The facilities have been built to Sport England standards. 

Minimising embodied carbon

To meet the near zero target, BAM incorporated many innovative and passive design measures including mixed-mode ventilation and optimised glazing ratios, to provide daylight while reducing heat gains. 

The building is airtight and extremely well insulated, with an efficient envelope that limits heat loss. Natural ventilation and heat recovery further enhance its eco-credentials. The building is also connected to the highly efficient King’s Cross Central district heating and cooling network.

Innovation overcomes challenges 

Using laminated timber – a largely natural material – brings with it certain technical challenges. 

In the case of the King’s Cross Sports Hall, the saw-tooth design of the roof meant that rainwater started to collect in the gullies as soon as it was installed. BAM came up with a vented design solution that, along with a roofing membrane, allowed the moisture to escape and the timber to dry out. 

As well as the extensive use of timber in the project, BAM used a carefully formulated bespoke concrete mix for the sub-structure. This required extensive on and off-site testing to ensure that it was not too heavy while still providing full structural integrity. 

“We are thrilled that the Sports Hall has now completed, adding a further piece to the King’s Cross jigsaw. The Sports Hall will be a fantastic asset for the local community.”


Will Colthorpe

King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership