I. Cafes, restaurant
There are several restaurants situation in the warehouse-type building surrounding Granary Square (Caravan and Grain Store), as well as smaller cafes and places to sit for shorter periods of time (Yumchaa, Benugo). This shows how the square caters to both people who may have gone to the square on purpose for proper meals (such as residents of the area, tourists etc) as well as people who may have come from the station nearby and who are just looking to grab something quick. The square makes use of the warehouse-type building, which is connected to Central St. Martin’s arts school, in order to provide restaurants and cafes that offer proper shelter and a general indoors space seeing as the rest of the square consists of open air space (acts as a pit-stop that disrupts flows of people).
There are even more up-market restaurants surrounding the square such as Dishoom and Granger & Co which are very popular choices amongst locals and tourists alike, as well as The Lighterman which boasts a beautiful terrace which would be especially popular in the summertime. Similarly KERB (a food market) which has stalls similar to those found in Camden attracts people who may want something quick and easy (eg. those rushing for a train). Thus these restaurants themselves also bring their own special flows of people who come to the square in order to dine there specifically, on top of people who may also be passing by or who may come from the nearby station. There is also a large waitrose nearby the square and this especially attracts people who live around the area who want to do their groceries – creates even more flow and business in the area.
II. The use of water: the fountains
Granary Square is also famous for its fountains, maybe the most popular attraction in kings Cross during Summer. There are 1,080 choreographed jets, that can be individually controlled by an application: Granary Squirt. This app permits the redefine the use of space by people. People can control the fountains, the lighting during the night, which make the square very dynamic, modern and pleasant. This is another use of a place by people.
III. The use of water: the canal
From Granary Square you can view the regent’s canal which crosses the north area of central London. The canal has become an important leisure amenity. The towpath is open to the public and is well used by both cyclists and walkers. Boat trips are popular, especially between Camden and Little Venice
It is important to emphasize that depending on the weather, you can observe different flows of people as different activities are carried out in the place.
In summer or when the weather is favourable you can observe a large number of people walking and enjoying the good weather. People from all ages go there to relax and enjoy as it is a place where you can escape from the rush of the city.
However, due to the winter weather, the number of people walking along the canal is reduced. Most of the passers-by were athletes who went both on bike and running, as well as some other people walking. In total we could find about 20 people all the way. We can deduce that most athletes used that place to train in a quiet and empty environment, place where you can do sport without being bothered in a big city like London.
It is also important to highlight the fact that the area was under construction, since they are improving the place. So it was not as quiet as it should be while you walked through the towpath.
It is curious the number of existing boathouses that could be found along all the canal that make us feel as if we were in another place but the usually busy London.
It could be outlined that during winter time, especially when it is cloudy and rainy, Granary square is quite differentiated from the canal in terms of flows of people and activities. Whereas the square is a place where different type of people can be found, because of the cafés, the university, the school, etc. in the canal it can only be found people doing sports.
IV. The Schools
In Granary Square you will find Central Saint Martins which is a university of the fine arts. It is part of a larger collective university called University of the Arts, London. This part of Granary Square used to be a store of wheat for bakers and was designed in 1982 by the architect who also designed King’s Cross station, Lewis Cubitt. Since then, this building has been restored by Stanton Williams Architects. The building is said to set the architectural tone for the northern part of the King’s Cross development.
The building now, as part of the university, houses many exhibition spaces as well as performance spaces and parts of it are also open to the public. The stables next to this building hold up to 275 bicycles, meaning that students are encouraged to use sustainable modes of transport.
The Granary Complex won the Mayor’s Award for Planning Excellence in 2012. And Stanton Williams won gold at Building Design’s Architect of the Year Awards. The campus at King’s Cross opened in 2011, welcoming 5,000 students and staff. This is a huge number of people. Because of this we can state that Granary Square is a hub for artistic education and is always populated with people, particularly throughout the academic year.
There is a set of eight large benches at Granary Square. They’re arranged in facing pairs around four fountain pools. The aesthetic of the benches mimic the eroded and natural quality of granite boulders. As a result, they appear smooth, comfortable, and inviting and give the impressive that they’ve been carved and polished by the elements of millions of years. The benches are made of Cornish Grey Granite, which was also used on the Tower Bridge and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. They’re manufactured using tension bars in order to withstand high pedestrian loads.
VI. Variation of density
People in Granary Square are not the same throughout the seasons, and the density of the square varies seasonally. Indeed, during Summer, the square appears as a huge playground, especially for kids who are playing with the fountains. People are picnicking all around the square, on the benches, and in the staircases, covered with grass during summertime. On the contrary, during Winter, the square is most likely a place of passing, a way of reaching a place to another, but not anymore a place to stop, to sit down, to eat, to read, etc. This variation of uses depending on the season and the weather is glaring in Granary Square, maybe more than any other places in Kings Cross.
Granary Square during Summer (Kings Cross Website https://www.kingscross.co.uk/granary-square)
VII. Mapping the flows