The German Gymnasium, King’s Cross
10th January 2011
Outside St. Pancras International station next to the huge 67 acre development site at King’s Cross sits the Grade II listed German Gymnasium, or Die Turnhalle as it was originally known. Funded by expat donations, designed by Edward Gruning and built in 1864-1865 for use by the German Gymnastics Society, it hosted the indoor events of the first National Olympic Games in 1866 and is believed to be the first purpose built gym in the country.
“The main exercise hall was a grand and elegant space with a floor to ceiling height of 57ft. The vast laminated timber roof trusses, with their original cast iron hooks from which budding Olympians swung from ropes as a form of exercise, are still in place today.”
A calm, church-like proportioned building, filled with light at the mezzanine level and a well-preserved historical marker in the midst of such a large regeneration site. The space is filled with wonderful period features, such as the laminated timber trusses that hold the roof up (an early example of the style), detailed brickwork, elegant iron pillars and foliage capitals, and arched windows.
Since the Midland Road realignment required 30 metres to be removed from the western side, a new façade was added facing the station and the building has been used as a venue space for hire, for events, exhibitions and art installations. Now King’s Cross Central’s marketing suite and Visitor Centre, with an interior fit out by Studio Downie Architects who’s design incorporates the light-rings seen here, that provide a link between the ground floor spaces up into the timber roof.
Indian club swinging or broadsword practice anyone?