The Public Realm Environment and Sustainability Group (PRES) is one of the four working groups set up by the Knowledge Quarter. The public realm is something that affects every KQ member, we all have an interest in making the area around King’s Cross a place where people will be pleased to work, live, study, or visit.
The PRES group has the difficult task of finding ways in which the KQ can generate improvements to the public parts of the KQ area. We don’t have shovels, hard hats, or earth-moving equipment so our role is really to identify areas where we can be a catalyst. The kind of topics that may be discussed by the group include:
- Air quality
- Pedestrian routes
- Planting and public art
- Condition of pavements and streets
- Parks and gardens
- Public seating
- Litter and presentation
- …. And that’s not an exclusive list
The Knowledge Quarter is not funded to propose and carry out works itself but we can potentially identify opportunities where funding may be available from public or private sector sources. That’s why the first major project for the PRES group is the area-wide audit now reaching completion. The audit is a comprehensive look at every street in the KQ area and a collection of data into a comprehensive online planning tool powered by Google Maps. Streets are classified according to their look and feel, the state of their amenities, and a good deal of detail is recorded along with photographs. This tool will be used in two ways:
- as inspiration for a charrette that will take place in September, during which architects and others will be invited to a grand-scale brainstorm to produce ideas for area improvements;
- as an ongoing reference dataset that will enable us to seek out, and react to, opportunities that may arise for funding improvements to the public spaces.
Almost all improvements depend on the agreement of local authorities, and in many cases Transport for London, but there may be things that we can do, in partnership with them, that they could not do on their own or that would not have been recognised as opportunities. It will be important when we develop ideas, at the charrette or otherwise, to engage with those bodies and seek ways in which the Knowledge Quarter can be an enabler of progress in partnership with them.
Contact Martin Sach if you’d like to know more about the Public Realm Environment and Sustainability Subgroup and attend future meetings.