Around midday, the front of Kings Cross station was bathed in sunlight.

 

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In the new west concourse, light poured down the mesh of the central pillar, drawing the eye to the historic facade beyond.

 

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Shadows striped the floor at the entrance and two branched columns stood out like trees at the edge of a woodland clearing.

 

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Sunlight and shadow threw the ribs of the roof into sharp relief, echoing the vaulting of a medieval cathedral or the branching of a forest canopy.

 

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Then the sun moved round, the shadows deepened and the ‘intelligent’ lighting system decided that some artificial backup was called for.

 

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The energy efficient LED lighting reacts to ambient light levels and automatically adjusts the wash of light from 24 different units.  The colour is variable too, though this blue-violet is the default option, chosen to contrast with the yellow brick of the 1850 building.

 

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Kings Cross has been my gateway to London (and the departure point for home) for most of my life.  I grew up in what used to be quaintly called the Home Counties, just 30 miles down the line from Kings Cross.  More recently I’ve lived for twenty years in York, two hours north on a fast train.  Now Kings Cross is the midway point on my journey from or home to Paris.

The basic structure of the Victorian station is unchanged but the experience of traveling through Kings Cross has been transformed almost beyond recognition.  The reglazed train shed roof floods the platforms with daylight and the grimy brickwork has been restored to it’s original straw yellow.  The ugly sprawl of 1960s extensions has been cleared from the front of the station, replaced by the dazzling new concourse at the side (opened in 2013).  Cafés and shops are well provided for, but they are not the focal point of the station.  This place is about journeys, whether routine or extraordinary.  It’s a point of departure and a memorable destination.

(Click on any photo for a closer view)