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First phase of Aga Khan's King's Cross hub unveiled

By Paul Norman - Friday, June 28, 2013 14:50

Aga Khan IV is set to gain consent from Camden council for the 95,000 sq ft first phase of a major cultural centre devoted to Muslim Ismali studies close to Google’s £650m headquarters at the King’s Cross Central scheme. CoStar News takes a look at the plans with first images.

King's Cross Central General Partner Limited and Aga Khan Foundation (UK)’s plans for the T5 building, a 198-bed student accommodation block with shops on the ground floor, has been recommended for approval by Camden council officers ahead of a committee meeting next Thursday (4 July), CoStar News has learned.

The plot currently comprises vacant land at the northern end of York Way, a semi-abandoned industrial location on the 67-acre development site that is undergoing significant change, with the largely residential buildings R4 and R5 North now occupied and T6 aiming for planned completion in summer 2013.

The T5 student accommodation block, designed by Stanton Williams, is the first of a series of projects at King’s Cross being commissioned for the use of a range of institutions affiliated with the Ismaili Imamat, most of which fall under the umbrella of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

It comprises a 12 storey building (including ground floor), comprised of two 12 storey ‘bookend’ wings above a ground floor plinth, flanking a central eight-storey element which is set back from the street towards the north of the plot.

The building will provide 198 bedrooms spread across 8,717 sq m principally occupied by students attending the Aga Khan University - Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) and the Institute for Ismali Studies (IIS).

Both institutions are expected to eventually move from their current location on Euston Road to the KXC development as part of a wider programme of new buildings at King’s Cross by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

The ground floor offers 247 sq m of flexible commercial use (retail/professional uses: Class A1/A2 and/or food & drink use class A3 and/or non-residential use class D1) across approximately two thirds of the Canal Reach frontage, accessed directly from the street.

Communal roof garden spaces would be provided as 1st and 8th floors (of 350 sq m and 170 sq m respectively).

T5 will adjoin the student tower at plot T6 and will be an integral part of what is being termed the wider T Zone within the masterplan.

The building would be arranged with the main pedestrian and cycle entrance facing Canal Reach to the south.

Servicing and car parking is provided at the rear of the site, accessed via the portal openings proposed here and in the approved T1 and T6 schemes.

The proposals include a small area of public realm, comprising a section of Canal Reach to the south of T5 and a section of the Zone T service road to the north of the building.

The block is the first phase of an expected major Muslim cultural centre at the site that is understood to be being worked up by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki for the Aga Khan.

Camden planning officers have recommended approval of the reserved matters application for the building ahead of a development control committee meeting next Thursday. Officers write: "Sustainable design has been at the heart of the proposal, which results in a building that positively exceeds the requirements of the outline permission. Residential occupants of the building will enjoy a high quality of amenity, both internally within their accommodation and communal spaces and outside on the roof terraces. The building, and the adjacent public realm, has also been designed to be accessible by all."

A spokesperson for the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP) said: "KCCLP confirm that they have submitted a reserved matters application to Camden Council for student housing on plot T5 at King's Cross Central. The building will provide 198 bedrooms, predominantly for use by graduate students. The Stanton Williams-designed scheme is being developed by the King's Cross Central Limited Partnership on behalf of the Aga Khan Development Network, for whom it will be the first of a planned series of buildings at the King's Cross site."

The Aga Khan Development Network, an 80,000-strong organisation, is headed by the leader of the world’s 15m Ismaili Muslims.

The application comes at a time when the redevelopment at King’s Cross Central continues to enjoy significant momentum.

After five years of construction across the 67 acre development the first premises opened in September 2011.

Google UK this week lodged plans for a £650m campus at the site meaning that over half of the total 8m sq ft at King’s Cross is now occupied or committed.

In total, the King's Cross Central Limited Partnership project is delivering over 1,900 homes, 3.4m sq ft net of offices and 500,000 sq ft of shops.

This year will see a range of new developments including the completion of One Pancras Square and Two Pancras Square – two speculative Grade A office buildings with a combined area of circa 200,000 sq ft on Pancras Square, next to King’s Cross Station.

In addition construction will start on the educational, office, cultural, retail and residential spaces for the Aga Khan Development Network.

In 2014 Camden council will move into new offices on Pancras Square and Two Pancras Square will also be completed. BNP Paribas Real Estate will also move into a new office building on Pancras Square, which they are developing.

In January 2013 King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership confirmed £250m funding from four leading banks.

As well as funding three commercial buildings (Western Transit Shed, One and Two Pancras Square) and 272 new homes (in ArtHouse and 1 Canal Reach), it will also be used for the final phases of infrastructure, both south and north of the Regent’s Canal.

This includes work on Cubitt Square, Cubitt Park, Gasholder No. 8, towpath improvements, footbridges over the canal, pavilions on Granary Square, more works on King’s Boulevard and final finishes on Battle Bridge Place.

King’s Cross is being developed by the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership, which is a joint venture between London & Continental Railways Limited, DHL Supply Chain and Argent King's Cross Limited Partnership, in conjunction with Hermes Fund Managers.

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