Client: London & Continental Railways / Masterplan: Rail Link Engineering (Bechtel, Arup, Systra, Halcrow) / Reabilitare St Pancras Chambers rehabilitation: RHWL and Richard Griffiths Architects (restaurare / restauration) / Restaurare structura acoperire / Roof structure restauration: Pascall & Watson / Extindere terminal Eurostar terminal extension: Foster+Partners / Retail: Chapman Taylor
St Pancras Station is a British edifice representative of the Victorian era, comprising two major structures, of considerable architectural and historical importance: the train shed hosting the platforms, built after the plans of engineer William Henry Barlow between 1864-1868, and the imposing neogothic building (St Pancras Chambers), designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and built between 1868-1876. Barlow’s work was at the that time – and for the next quarter of a century – the widest single-span structure in the world, spanning 74 meters. St Pancras Chambers is acknowledged today as one of the most important neogothic buildings from England. Both structures are Grade I listed and thus imposed a maximum of delicacy in the modernization process of the train station.
The aim of remodeling St Pancras Station is to transform it into an international multimodal terminal, capable of hosting the Eurostar trains along with several national rail services, beginning with 2007.
The intervention comprises two major components: the restoration and remodeling of the original St Pancras complex and the extension designed by Sir Norman Foster in order to accommodate the 400 m long Eurostar trains.
St Pancras Station has the particular feature of having the train platforms located above ground level. This is due to the immediate vicinity with Regent’s Canal, which dictated the building of a bridge from which the train platforms directly ramify. Thus, a residual space resulted between ground and platform level, a space which was sensibly transformed in the process of remodelling the train station.
The ground level was opened to the public and redesigned for retail (shops, cafes etc.), while also serving as an access and transit space. After the refurbishment, the original structure of the ground floor is exposed and visually integrated within the space in a sensitive manner. A concrete deck was cast above the beam structure of the platform for stiffening. This allowed for several openings in the platform, to facilitate the functional and visual connection between ground and platform levels, while allowing the natural illumination of the ground floor.
The train shed structure was restored and the roof covering was remodeled according to the original image: two lateral slate strips which flank the central, glazed section of the vault.
St Pancras Chambers was also restored and now serves for residential and hotel purposes.
The extension of the train station is deliberately rendered in a neutral architectural manner. The new structure comprises a horizontal slab – set at the lower limit of the gable of Barlow’s structure – which rests on circular pillars. The main access and circulation node of the new St Pancras terminal is located at the junction between the old and the new building. This node also contains one of the links to King’s Cross St Pancras underground station, where six lines of the London Underground intersect.
Two underground platforms for Thameslink line were created on the western section of the station. In order to achieve this, one unit of the historic building was dismantled and rebuilt preserving the original image. Thus, from ground level one can access either these underground platforms or the upper platform for national and Eurostar trains.
The traffic system was also restructured for a coherent functioning of the ensemble. Each of the streets adjacent to the station became one-way routes, transforming the St Pancras complex into a major roundabout, which includes spaces for taxis and buses. A two-level car park was also included within the extension of the station.
The project for the transformation of St Pancras station is an obvious success in respect of the organization of new functional connections, both internally and with the city. The restoration of the precious architectural components is also a success, enhanced by the rediscovering of new functional and aesthetic features of the space below the train platforms level. In a world of mobility, St Pancras project is a valid answer to contemporary demands regarding international transport, as well as a model for adapting to and integrating the historical structures into the contemporary urban project.