Britain: Urban redesign turns ‘gasholders’ into living quarters
• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
LONDON – Ever thought of living in a gasholder (“gas tank” to those outside Britain)? Probably not. But that unusual possibility is part of a current redevelopment plan in London.
In one of the largest city regeneration projects under way in Europe, 67 acres of land are being radically redesigned in the area surrounding two of London’s great Victorian train stations: St. Pancras and King’s Cross.
The project involves both new construction and renovation of existing architecture with “historic interest.” Among these landmarks are some remarkable Victorian gasholders. The enormous tanks no longer hold fuel. Yet to historic preservationists it is out of the question for all of them – nine at one time – to simply be demolished. Their decorative iron “guide frames” (columns and circles making intricate patterns against the sky) have a beauty that is something more than a fine example of Victorian industry.
All but four of the gasholders at King’s Cross already have been demolished. One, “Gasholder 8,” is still standing. But soon it will be taken down, restored, and later re-erected. It will begin a new life as a setting for open-air events.
The other three, ranging from 105 to 110 feet tall, were in a joined-together, tangential group known affectionately as “the triplets.” They already have been dismantled but are being stored. After restoration, they’re to be re-erected in a new position. And inside them, instead of gas, there will be people living in three new apartment blocks linked by an atrium.