Five-day cultural extravaganza to celebrate Parabola Land's mix of concert halls, galleries, food outlets and office space in King's Cross

A unique combination of public concert halls, art galleries, restaurants and speculative office space opens in London’s King’s Cross next Wednesday.

As designed by Dixon Jones, the £97m building is faced in refined Jura limestone overlooking Battlebridge canal basin on one side and a wavy curtain wall facing Argent’s £2bn regeneration scheme for King’s Cross.

The whole project is the brainchild of Peter Millican, whose development company, Parabola Land, has ploughed the profits from 26,000m2 of speculative office space (partly occupied by the Guardian newspaper) back into the cultural facilities.

King's Place, Hall One
Credit: Richard Bryant

The company has also donated the performance spaces at a peppercorn rent to two existing orchestras, London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. On top of that, it has established a charitable foundation to manage and operate a rich programme of cultural events.

The opening celebrated will be a five-day cultural extravaganza that will feature some 100 concerts staged throughout the building as well as exhibitions in the two art galleries.

The highlight of the building is a 420-seat concert hall surrounded by a modern colonnade faced in flawless natural oak. The square-sectioned columns partly mask grey curtains that can be drawn behind them to change the acoustics of the hall.

Construction was carried out by Sir Robert McAlpine in a 35-month design-and-build contract. This entailed digging a pit 17m over the entire site, which abuts the existing canal on two sides.

The limestone cladding was pre-assembled by Trent Concrete into large panels with in situ concrete backing. They were then transported to site by barge, from which they lifted directly into the permanent position.

Structural and services engineer and acoustician was Arup and Gardiner & Theobald was cost consultant.