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One of London’s largest and most exciting redevelopments, King’s Cross has been described as a symbol of London’s industrial past and creative present – both of which inform Argent’s new residential development, LUMA.
Squire + Partners
Conran and Partners
With a unique identity amongst a characterful collection of neighbouring office and apartment buildings currently under construction, LUMA is inspired by the industrial heritage of King’s Cross, with a delicately layered façade symbolising the interconnecting rail tracks. Competing with many other new residential developments currently on site or recently delivered in the area, LUMA needed to own its identity, making it a desirable place to live.
This joined-up collaboration between the client, Argent, architects Squire & Partners and interior designers Conran and Partners, has made the story of LUMA’s design an easy tale to tell.
The building’s aluminium façade, with a second layer emulating dappled light, creates an organic pattern used on decorative lattice screens, bas-relief aluminium and concrete panels. The exterior panels can be moved to modulate light into the apartments, mitigating the effects of solar gain and helping to keep the apartments cool in the summer months. All apartments benefit from either a balcony or Juliette balcony, which blur the boundary between inside and out, further reinforcing the connections to the parks on either side.
‘The pandemic has heightened most people’s desire to be connected to nature, so the concept is even more relevant now than it was when we designed the scheme some years ago,’ says Simon Kincaid, Partner at Conran and Partners. ‘The building’s unique positioning between two adjacent green spaces – Jellicoe Gardens to the east and Lewis Cubitt Park to the west – helps to create a sense of openness for residents, as well as enhancing the quality of light inside the apartments. This strong visual connection to the parks, combined with the dual aspect of many apartments and generous balconies, gives LUMA a distinctive feel of urban luxury.’
Key to the design is the journey from a bustling urban eternal space to the serenity of the interiors. Conran and Partners has created a tonal journey, from the atmospheric and rich lobby to airy light-filled apartments – a unique interior identity that contrasts dramatic design features with moments of calm, offering a tranquil, spa-like escapism for residents.
The composition of the lobby area is influenced by Conran and Partners’ experience of hotel design. Conceived as a mixture of a sophisticated hotel lobby and a welcoming members’ club, with the level of concierge service to match, LUMA’s warm and multi-layered lobby offers a clear visual connection and axis between the two parks.
High ceilings, dark-stained timber joinery, bespoke lighting and soft furnishings create a serene and atmospheric entrance, complemented by a layering of details such as full-height bronze-black metal decorative screens that divide the space, light grey terrazzo flooring with brass inlay pattern, leather upholstery and a Venato marble concierge desk.
As residents and visitors move through the building to the corridor and apartment spaces, the material palette lightens in contrast, to create relaxing, light-filled environments in which to live.
Whether inside the apartments looking out, or outside looking in, the essence of LUMA – the theatre of light and shadow and the considered journey between the two – is unmistakeable: the graphic pattern of the metallic brise soleil on the façade references the pattern of dappled light that forms when sunlight filters through a tree canopy. This effect is replicated throughout the apartment spaces as light passes through the screens and into the rooms, creating a delicate light pattern effect. A similar design motif is repeated in the communal lobby, where latticed screens subtly partition the main reception from a lounge area, which features additional spaces for meetings or relaxation. The screens also modulate light to mitigate the effects of solar gain.
‘The belief that ‘light brings space to life’ stands at the heart of LUMA’s design ethos – it’s the inspiration for the curation of the living spaces, the muse behind the distinctive architecture and interior colour palette, and the essence of the building’s name,’ Simon adds. ‘The key objective was therefore to create bright and open spaces which offered a feeling of openness and luxury.’
The generous, light-filled apartments provide an open and tranquil setting, with tall balcony windows, smoothly integrated kitchens and bathrooms, and deliberately understated, natural, light and refined materials – such as timber and natural stone – to create a connection back to nature and to induce a feeling of purity and serenity.
‘We have sought to create a sense of identity and character within the apartments themselves, which have been described as having the feel of a collection of bespoke residences, despite there being a total of 61 units,’ says Simon. ‘We have focused on using finishes and materials that are deliberately understated, natural, light and refined, which serve to accentuate and celebrate the spectacular views from the building – creating a unique destination on the King’s Cross masterplan.’
Photography: Jake Walters and Patrick Williamson
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