From Camden Lock you can walk along the Regent’s Canal tow path to the Kings Cross development. It feels like a world away. From the small scale buildings, the cobbles the market, the punks (still!) of Camden Lock to the Kings Cross development described by architecture and design critic of the FT Edwin Heathcote as “The perfect mix of grittiness and shininess, simultaneously a symbol of London’s industrial and engineering past and the creative present.”
But that’s the story of the Borough of Camden and indeed inner London as a whole – diversity and extremes close together. The borough has 36 designated Conservation Areas; over 5,600 listed buildings and is the seventh largest economy in the UK.
It also used to have a number of old and energy hungry buildings to house the various departments of the borough council. In 2015 all of the departments were bought together in the new 11 storey multipurpose building at 5 Pancras Square part of the Kings Cross Development.
The building houses the council administrative office, a leisure centre with two pools and a fitness centre, a library and the council’s customer access centre. There are a lot of people using the building for different purposes.
The navigation system uses colour coding for each of the floors and the open atrium arrangement of the floor plate means that the bold, colourful floor-numbering system is visible throughout the building. The colours extend to use on furniture and glass wall cladding. The navigation and orientation installations literally reflect the visual language of the whole building.
Because it’s a high use public space we specified an easy to clean and maintain, highly durable material on the floor directories, freestanding totems and wall mounted signs. The same material – HI-MACS – is used for the reception furniture. Pictograms feature strongly within the wayfinding scheme – particularly useful for people living in an area where a high proportion of the population do not speak English as their first language.
5 Pancras Square has won many awards most notably in recognition of its energy efficiency and low emissions design. We were delighted to have been recognised for our work in the Wayfinding and Signage category of the 2017 Transform Awards Europe. The project also features as an exemplar of good practice within the RIBA publication ‘Are You An Inclusive Designer’ (Julie Fleck OBE) which was released in 2019.