Just behind King’s Cross station can be found a large scale model showing off most of central London. Previously found at the Building Centre, the model has moved to King’s Cross, into a larger building and gained the addition of a chunk of northwest London including Wembley stadium.

It’s as much a thing to look at and point at for the public, as a sales and explanatory tool for architects and urban planners.

Commissioned by New London Architecture (NLA), who also own the model at the City Centre, it has expanded several times over the years to take in the developments that are popping up around London. Once just the central section and docklands, it now includes areas such as Nine Elms, the Royal Docks, Stratford, and they’ve just added the Wembley area.

Even in modern times of 3D computer renders, architects still build models as there’s just something extra that a physical representation delivers that a computer screen just can’t quite yet. And of course, as much as the model is of use to the industry, there are few people in general who are not fascinated by the huge 3D-map of London.

Just as you can’t put a Rowntree fruit pastille in your mouth without chewing it, you simply can’t look at the London model without needing to point at places on it.

The model used to be based at the Building Centre in Tottenham Court Road, but they’ve decided to become a roaming display moving around London to show it off. Candidly, the Building Centre, while ideal as a venue for events, always felt slightly offputting to passers-by, whereas the current site, in an empty shop at the Coal Drops Yard is designed to lure people in.

On my visit, even before it formally opened to the public, two large open doors and big windows were luring passers-by inside, and I noticed that there were at times more people inside looking at the model than outside shopping.

The exhibition space is also showing off the other work of the NLA at the moment, a report into what makes London a desirable city, and more down to scale, an exhibition about home improvements.

Not so much Changing Rooms, and more award-winning architectural innovations in domestic homes. A chance often for younger architects to show off what they can do on a smaller scale, but I would argue that as this is where people live, the effects can often be more life-changing than a fancy office block.

The exhibition shows off the 2021 winners of the annual home improvement competition, and the NLA run regular open days for prospective home improvers to meet architects under their Don’t Move, Improve brand.

Undeniably though, it’s the model that lures people inside. It’s rather irresistible.

The NLA’s temporary residence at the Coal Drop Yards will be open until late September before moving to its next home. It’s free to go inside, and there’s a small cafe there as well.

The exhibition space is open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm and Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. It can be found on the upper floor of the Coal Drops Yard.

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9 comments
  1. Greg says:

    Also unlike much other events and exhibits, no pre-booking required!

  2. Virginia says:

    Where exactly is it?
    What building?

  3. Chris Rogers says:

    Despite being an NLA member/subscriber I’ve never really got why they did this nor what is going to happen to Store Street now, though to be fair the place has been changed constantly over the near 30 years I have been going. I disagree that it is offputting however – nice concave frontage, all glass, cafe in half of the window etc etc. And pardon me for being cynical but since NLA is funded by and promotes development, for all their public facing pleasures, this feels as much as plug for Kings Cross as it does anything else. And not sure the model will take the strain of being repeatedly moved..

  4. Brian Butterworth says:

    This was very disappointing.

    The model is, at best, 90% accurate. Loads of obvious things missing such as the long-finished 42-storey 143m tall Manhattan Loft Gardens and the Stratford Waterfront and still has loads of things that have not been approved or funded such as the Rotherhithe crossing (pedestrian bridge).

    And missing all the plans under construction at Old Oak Common too.

    • ianVisits says:

      No model of that size will ever be 100% accurate, but I think it’s more like 99.9% accurate, and as the design for Old Oak Common development hasn’t been agreed yet it would be impossible to include it at the moment.

  5. Mike Piet says:

    Pity this is not open after 18.00 as that makes it difficult for those of us travelling from out-of-town to visit. I quite often have time to spare on the way home but not on the way into London for an appointment.

  6. Susa stevens says:

    I would like to see this exhibit but I can’t find an address. Please help.

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