Cover-up! Quentin Blake drafted in to hide 'unsightly' buildings

The children's illustrator has been hired to give travellers stepping off the new high-speed train from Paris a better first impression of the city

As the artist whose illustrations enlivened Roald Dahl's children's books, Quentin Blake is renowned for his inspirational work.

Yet, even by his standards, the artist's latest feat is exceptional: he is working with property developers to make an entire building in central London disappear. He has been commissioned to provide a giant drawing to hide a ramshackle block called Stanley Building South, which stands on the edge of the £2bn King's Cross redevelopment.

The building is empty and boarded up. More to the point, in the minds of the property developer Argent, it is far too much of an eyesore to be the first thing that passengers see as they step off the high-speed train from Paris.

Their prescription for this problem is an artistic screen illustrated by Blake, to hide the dilapidated building. It would become a feature, illuminated at night by floodlights.

"Stanley South is part of an international gateway and will soon be very much 'on show'," Argent has told local authority planning officers. "Its current visual appearance – pending the longer-term refurbishment – detracts from the quality of environment and world-class gateway now being put in place."

Blake, 75, was asked to create "an imaginary welcoming committee". He has included characters singing and dancing, swigging beer and enjoying food.

"It is a scene of celebration with bunting and flag-waving to greet the new arrivals," according to Argent. "It is an arresting image to make visitors feel that they have arrived somewhere fun, welcoming and memorable."

Blake, who illustrated Dahl classics such as The Twits, Matilda and The BFG, was chosen because he was interested in a proposal to open a Museum of Illustration somewhere on the redevelopment site.

"Quentin Blake's work is high-profile within France," said the developer. "This adds to the logic of commissioning [him] to create a unique illustration at Stanley South that will celebrate . . . the arrival of the high-speed train connection with France into St Pancras, and the wider regeneration of King's Cross Central, which has now begun in earnest."

The only stumbling block is that the project doesn't meet Camden council's strict planning codes on "wraps". The developers are asking officials to treat their application as a "special case". A decision is expected next month.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss