Decor & Design, Travel

Thomas Heatherwick Does it Again at Coal Drops Yard

The new shopping and lifestyle precinct created by the acclaimed designer’s studio recently opened to the public in King’s Cross, London 

Luke Hayes, Hufton + Crow, John Sturrock

Thomas Heatherwick Coal Drops Yard

The Coal Drops Yard area was originally established in 1850 to handle the eight million tonnes of coal that were, in those days, delivered to the city of London each year. The Victorian structures, streets and rich ironwork that now form the Coal Drops Yard precinct have been redeveloped to form a new shopping and lifestyle district.

Bringing together like-minded brands – including over 50 stores, restaurants, bars and cafes – in a reimagined set of buildings, the development offers the very opposite of conventional, cookie-cutter spaces. 

Coal Drops Yard Thomas Heatherwick

Stores and restaurants are located in canal-side arches facing cobbled courtyards, within the original ‘coal drops’ themselves, and across a series of raised iron viaducts. Under the striking new ‘kissing’ rooftops (which are 20 metres high and six metres wide) lies a single dual-aspect space. The rooftops themselves feature 80 000 Welsh slate roof tiles, and the materials on show throughout have a gloriously weathered and tactile feel.

Coal Drops Yard Thomas Heatherwick

As Heatherwick told Design Indaba 2018 delegates during his presentation to the conference earlier this year, his studio is interested in ‘a search for soulfulness and a sense of place’ with which human beings seem to instinctively connect. His view is that ‘a culture of making, of the small scale, is something missing from [many] big projects’, and Coal Drops Yard is one of the new developments by Heatherwick Studio that aims to run counter to this trend by grappling with both the larger and smaller scales of design.

Read more about Thomas Heatherwick’s award-winning Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town here.

Coal Drops Yard Thomas Heatherwick

Coal Drops Yard Thomas Heatherwick

Don't miss these Coal Drops Yard design stores

Tenants of the new development include internationally renowned design brand Tom Dixon, which has been in situ since April 2018 and occupies The Coal Office: a ‘live studio’ combining shop, workshop, gallery and offices all under one roof that is soon to include a restaurant space as well. Other brands that design lovers will want to visit in Coal Drops Yard include luxe menswear creators Form & Thread, Danish outerwear brand Rains, MHL by Margaret Howell and the ever-popular COS.

Food and drinks highlights at Coal Drops Yard

A major highlight of the Coal Drops Yard development is its food and drinks offerings. Instant hits include the Spanish tapas bar Barrafina and taco specialists Casa Pastor – the companion spot to El Pastor, which has been serving up superb Mexican dishes in Borough Market for several years now. Plus there’s Morty & Bob’s for cult grilled cheese, and Le Chocolat by Alain Ducasse, as well as The Drop, a wine bar that describes its take on food as ‘boldly British, but we wouldn’t baulk at a burrata’ and showcases wines ranging from everyday favourites to the weird and wonderful. Vermuteria brings the European trend for all things vermouth to the UK, with over 50 different vermouths on the menu. (We’re similarly obsessed and will be travelling directly to Vermuteria from Heathrow the next time we visit London…).

For more info about Coal Drops Yard visit the development’s website.