Wednesday March 31, 2010
By DAN CARRIER
IT has long been known as the Lighthouse, due to the whim of a Victorian designer who wanted to top off his work for an oyster bar with something nautical.
And the long-derelict building, which has become a run down landmark in the heart of King's Cross, was due to live up to its nickname as part of a 10-day festival in April - if the artists involved can find a safe way of getting inside.
The Lighthouse, on the corner of Gray's Inn Road and Pentonville Road, was set to be lit up by King's Cross based lighting studio Creatmosphere to highlight the eccentric masterpiece that lies unused in the heart of the area. But it's dangerous state means the artists are waiting to see if they can install the necessary equipment without endangering themselves or passers-by for the major April arts festival taking place across the area and offering unique access to historic buildings previously closed to the public.
Creatmosphere's previous works include lighting up Brighton's derelict West Pier and glass houses at Kew Gardens.
Creative director Laurent Louyer said a site tour revealed a building in a terrible condition, with rotten floors, dangerous stairs, leaking roofs and sagging walls.
He said: “It is in a very bad state – I have never seen a historic building in such poor repair.”
He said he hoped his plans will bring the building to people's attention and celebrate its nautical roots . He added: “People do not look at this building anymore and there is little information about it. We want to create an 'island and seaside' story using lights, but the building is proving very hard to work with.”
In April last year, planning permission was granted to convert the building into flats, shops and offices, but work has not yet started in earnest.
Other buildings that are crucial to the industrial heritage of the area will also be turned into arts venues for the festival, which starts on April 22nd. The Midland Goods Shed will host a performance by the London Sinfonietta, built in 1850 as a temporary station for Maiden Lane and then as a warehouse.
And the festival offers the chance for people to peek inside building usually closed to the public: a mechanical fish tank, with giant marine animals fashioned out of metal swimming through rooms, is planned for the Fish and Coal Offices.