Tranquil Stories – The Story Garden

We are telling inspiring stories of the people and communities who are creating and nurturing healthy, balanced and environmentally friendly urban spaces in cities. Here we speak with Nicole Van den Eijnde, the Joint Director of Global Generation, an environmental charity managing the unique Story Garden community space, situated between prominent institutions (The British Library, The Francis Crick Institute & St Pancras International Station) in the King’s Cross area. The space has a Tranquil City Index top score of 85%, where some areas in the King’s Cross score 10%! This means that the space provides significant opportunities for experiencing tranquillity, despite being in a very busy area undergoing rapid development.

Our Tranquil City Index shows the potential for a location to be good for our wellbeing. The index considers data such as noise pollution, traffic, air quality and access to nature and weights them based on their ability to have a restorative effect. Spaces that score highly have the potential to be opened up by the community to provide people with restful areas to connect with nature in the heart of the city.
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In 2018, the Story Garden officially became the charity’s fifth site in King’s Cross. Global Generation began working in the area from 2004, with the overarching ambition of connecting people to nature and wilderness, amid the climbing high rises and construction around St Pancras International station. 

Predominantly, the charity works with young people, helping them to develop the skills and confidence to enact positive social and environmental change. Nicole reflected “In the original plans, we were actually meant to be on the rooftops and we aimed to get young people up onto the gardens on the rooftops”. Due to health & safety and access concerns, this proved to be a difficult task. In later years, Global Generation successfully managed to secure a piece of land at ground level. Using construction waste from the redevelopment of King’s Cross, multiple stakeholders – from the Senior Management Team of the Guardian to local schools in Camden & Islington have beautifully recrafted a once concrete car park into a productive community space. “The garden is made from thousands of hands !”, Nicole warmly glowed.

Visitors sitting amongst and enjoying the lush vegetation in the garden, planted by “thousands of hands” over the years, as Nicole mentions.
Overlooked by Ossulston Estate, the vegetation continues to the fringes of the garden space!

The context in which the Story Garden sits is also particularly interesting. Nicole expressed that the redevelopment of Euston and King’s Cross has been very tense. “Lots of communities have existed here many more years before these new developments”. She continued “with families and residents being affected by uprootedness, local air pollution and noise issues on Euston Road”, the Story Garden provides “a bit of an oasis, a mutual ground for people to come together and learn”. 

The Story Garden enables a multitude of community uses and events. The garden runs an extensive education and outreach programme, including arts & craft workshops, wellbeing workshops (exploring themes of nature and water), storytelling sessions and family cooking projects. The garden also facilitates after school club activities and fellowships for young people carrying out action research on the site. Alongside these scheduled events, the garden simultaneously is an open space for relaxation. Reflecting on other uses, 75 local residents are currently looking after and managing their own food plots in the garden.

During our passionate chat, Nicole & I also touched on how the Story Garden uniquely accommodates young people from neurodiverse backgrounds. “We’ve managed to create a quiet and cozy space in the Roundhouse. We also have mini green areas outside, with fruit trees in circles and seats in the middle; in the Spring and Summer, everything is blooming! As for the polytunnels, you’re surrounded by tomatoes and nice smelling herbs”. Reflecting on the commonalities, Nicole mentioned “in these different spaces, you forget about the buildings –  it’s just plants, trees and flowers…!”.

The Story Garden hosts many diverse uses, including a play space, a vibrant polytunnel, community plant nursery, and a roundhouse for all to enjoy.
Creative flower arranging session with young children living in the Somers Town neighbourhood and beyond.
Local pupils imaginatively using the Story Garden’s available play areas after school hours.
Community event days help to attract diverse locals to the garden, to cook, enjoy the produce and establish new friendships with others.
The Story Garden offers ample opportunities for socialisation and connection, through its many community events.

Reflecting on the challenges of rapid redevelopment in the Euston area and sense of belonging, Nicole highlighted the importance of the charity in helping to create spaces which facilitate new interactions and connections between diverse residential communities. Alongside young children, Global Generation’s Story Garden outreach work also extends to elderly residents, young refugee groups, Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) students and individuals with deafness and hearing loss. Reflecting on the exciting co-creation processes, Nicole explained “we try to break down silos, creating an integrated vision for our gardens”.

Since its beginnings, the Story Garden has tremendously flourished – and it continues to evolve, increasing public access to nature, whilst enabling new community uses and narratives.  Joining other tranquil spaces in the King’s Cross area (from pedestrianized spaces and fountains near Regents Canal to the historic St Pancras Church yard), the Story Garden is a powerful and invaluable bonus, with lots to offer. 

2024 also is a big year for Global Generation as the charity turns 20 years old; they’re also building their first permanent garden in King’s Cross.  For anyone who would love to get involved, please find further information on

The Story Garden is open for anyone on Tuesday – Saturday (10am- 4pm) every week and can be found at Ossulston St, London NW1 1DF, a 5 minute walk from King’s Cross St Pancras Station.

If you are part of a tranquil space in your neighbourhood, please get in touch with us via our contact form so we can feature your #TranquilStories in our next feature! Alternatively, if you’d like support to help revitalise a space, please do get in contact too.

Author(s): Chloe McFarlane 

Engagement Lead

Colourful graffiti art spotted on external hoarding, aligning with Global Generation’s ethos of “breaking down silos and creating an integrated vision for its gardens”.