St Pancras station is now so glamorous that it seems indulgent for another London railway landmark to be given a makeover, yet that is what’s happening next door, at King’s Cross. There are unlikely to be many such grand civic projects once the belt-tightening starts. Still, London had a good run, with many public spaces transformed: King’s Cross’s new concourse is now half built.
John McAslan, its architect, doesn’t only focus his energies on this capital, having just returned from Haiti. There, his practice has been working with the Clinton Foundation to rebuild the Iron Market in Port au Prince (Bill and Hilary Clinton were married in Haiti’s Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the foundation has raised more than £1 billion for restoration projects since January’s earthquake). The Iron Market is a glorious building, made in Paris from prefabricated cast iron and erected in the 1890s.
The minarets of the central tower reveal that it was originally intended to preside over Cairo railway station, but when that sale didn’t come off, the Haitian president snapped it up. Half of the market burnt down in 2008, the rest was devastated during the earthquake. It will now rise again, better than ever: a bustling hub for this ravaged city and a showplace for its artisan culture.