Over the last 30 years, King’s Cross in London was often a byword for prostitution, crime and decay. Today, it is an architect’s dream, with gleaming new buildings rising rapidly by the score into the London skyline.
This month, it is home to the London Festival of Architecture, which features Ireland and the work of Irish architects in an exhibition entitled New Horizon, which is co-curated by Raymund Ryan and Nathalie Weadick.
"It's hugely significant that we have been chosen as the country of focus," says Karen Hennessy, chief executive of Irish Design 2015. "We do the ordinary really well; our sense of place and craftsmanship is really quite special."
Two installations have been set up in Lewis Cubitt Square, one painted red and the other yellow. One will provide shelter for some of the events to come over the next month, while the second is “an homage to the humble brick”.
The Irish architects represented are Clancy Moore, Hall McKnight, Steve Larkin, TAKA, A2, GKMP, Urban Agency, AP+E and Ryan W Kennihan. Their work has been brought together by Dublin-based architect, Emmett Scanlon in an installation called The Tank.
Now on display outside the Design Museum near Tower Bridge, with the help of paint manufacturer Colortrend, it celebrates Irish architecture’s strengths. “The design is really good, but we want it to be used thoroughly, with love and care,” Scanlon says.
His installation includes 90 pillars that run down its centre, representing the 90,000 houses to be built by 2020 to house nearly 250,000 people. “But there are only 2,500 architects, so how will we manage that if we want architects involved in the design of homes?” he asks.