Cosmology, Ecology & Action: young people explore the story of interconnectedness through practical work in King’s Cross

Our young people thrive on working together with businesses in the King's Cross community to create a new culture.

Back in November, Lydia, the Environmental Project Manager for King’s Cross developer Argent, got in touch with us to discuss how we can help further increase biodiversity on some of the green rooftops of King’s Cross buildings. They set a brief asking our young people to come up with designs, which they would pitch, and, once approved, build on the roofs of One Pancras Square and the Western Transit Shed.

So together with Generators including main project participants Adam, Jessica, Nene and Ranya, we paid a quick visit to the rooftop garden of Two Pancras Square - with a great 10th floor vista of its neighbours and the surroundings of King’s Cross. Then, the Generators took their inspiration and soon got their ideas together to plan what they would do.

With expert guidance from Paul, our Gardens Manager, and with inspiration from land artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, the Generators designed four different concepts, taking into consideration primarily how they could increase biodiversity on the rooftops - encouraging plants and insects to thrive - as well as the rooftop environments’ effects on plants. Paul explained that “you get different communities of plants for different types of environments (biomes), and the environments we were looking at on these roofs were alpine, seacliff and moorland.” 

The Generators made sure they thought about the different biomes, what materials they would use and where they would source them. They then presented their designs (with models to scale) and well thought out plans to a panel of professionals from King's Cross Estate Services, including Andres Sisa, Andrew McPherson and Gary Smith, as well as Lydia Dutton from Argent, who described their pitch as “the most excellent presentation from the Generators. The effort and consideration that has gone into preparing for the meeting was clear. So thank you.”

These different concepts the Generators have been working on are:

- Nene’s honeycomb structure - made from reclaimed logs cut into hexagonal shapes and with holes in the middle for plants

- Adam’s DNA double helix structure - as the common thread between all forms of living organisms on earth - made of reclaimed birch with plants all around it

- Ranya’s fingerprint structure - designed using FSC-sourced wood

- Jessica’s abstract structure, inspired by the theme of mother nature, and again made using reclaimed materials and native plants as much as possible

With the greenlight from Argent, the Generators set about working on build and installation of their designs on the rooftop gardens of the Western Transit Shed. Guided by Paul, the Generators have managed to source reclaimed wood from the Hampstead Heath conservation team to use in building their structures.

Over the February half-term, they were joined by Senior Generator Sam, and the honeycombs were laid, the DNA built and a firm print now marks the southern rooftop of the building. The young people even planted up native species heather (Calluna vulgaris).

Lydia has said "these look fantastic. I cannot wait to see how the roofs develop over time. Well done." Gary agreed, stating "great to say the designs come to life. They look great."

Now, we're all excited about the next steps. Over the Easter holidays, Nene and Jessica will finish off planting up more heather within and around the honeycomb structure, and sea-cliff specialists will be added to the One Pancras Square rooftop design.

Youth Programme Co-facilitator Silvia says “we’re all really looking forward to seeing how the young people take this project forward, and can't wait to see them share their stories of biodiversity across King’s Cross.”