New London Architecture

Sports Hall, Kings Cross


The all-timber building with near zero embodied carbon that replaces derelict land just above active rail tunnels. As a highly adaptable structure, it has been designed as a community sports hall.
Zero Carbon London

Zero Carbon London

→ BREEAM Excellent at design and construction stage
→ Low embodied carbon target of 195kgCO2e/m2 (once sequestration is taken into account)
→ Naturally ventilated 
→ CLT structure

The King’s Cross Sports Hall is an all-timber building with ‘near zero’ embodied carbon and a sub-structure that rests gently on the rail tunnels serving King’s Cross.

The building has been designed for multiple lives — it is highly adaptable with a long lifespan. Ultimately becoming a community sports facility for LB Camden, its first life will be as a construction skills centre providing local people with access to training and jobs.

The design responds to unseen challenges below ground; three Gasworks Tunnels dating from the 19th and early 20th century run north-south directly beneath the plot. The presence of these rail tunnels at shallow depth has strongly informed the design approach, necessitating a very lightweight, low rise structure, and defining the orientation of the sport hall on the site.

The concept included extensive use of low-carbon materials for the superstructure, plus a flexible and adaptable approach to the life cycle of the building thus future proofing its value to society. The timber frame allowed for dry, fast on-site construction giving a robust, aesthetically appealing structure with minimal mass. To minimise waste, facades were designed to stock cross-laminated timber (CLT) dimensions. The use of timber made the project viable as other forms of construction were deemed too heavy. The building also features natural and heat recovery ventilation and an efficient envelope to limit heat losses, ensuring a highly insulated and airtight construction.

Timber characterises and gives warmth and texture to the welcoming interior which has key spaces arranged on either side of a central spine leading onto interconnected communal spaces. The lightweight frame uses CLT soldier walls and slabs that are paired with Glulam columns and beams for its primary construction. The facade is a zinc-clad shell with a distinctive serrated roofline, taking inspiration from the former rail sheds of West Handyside Canopy.

The completed building is an exemplar of how timber can be used to create a versatile internal environment, while being low energy and fit for any future uses. Together it is a response that reaches for both positive environmental and social impacts.

Project information






2032 sq m


March 2020


Kings Place, 90 York Wy, London N1 9AG, UK

Team Credits


Bennetts Associates



Structural Engineer

Ove Arup & Partners

Services Engineer

E3 Consulting Engineers

Main Contractor

BAM Construct UK

Listed by

Bennetts Associates

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