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14 NEWS PUBLIC REALM A floating public space for London


Construction has begun on the Royal Wharf Pier – a new riverboat terminal incorporating a large new public space on the Thames, designed by London-based architects Nex—. The 130 metre long pier, located in


Ballymore and Oxley’s Royal Wharf development in London’s Royal Docks, will offer a unique perspective on the river from a 162 m2


viewing platform, and


marks the practice’s first major venture into infrastructure projects. Commissioned following an invited


competition in 2016, the architects were selected for “their innovative response to the site’s unusual constraints, creating a solution that harnesses infrastructure as an integral part of valuable public realm.” As a result, Royal Wharf Pier uses “strikingly contemporary design” to replace an existing derelict jetty, addressing the practical requirements of MBNA Thames Clippers’ traffic while also providing a “unique and generous public space that can be enjoyed by all,” commented the firm. The fixed element of the pier acts as a


linear open space, reminiscent of traditional British seaside piers. This frames straight views towards the horizon, and leads users onto a viewing platform set on the river. “Featuring integrated seating and finished with durable marine grade timber, this is a generous and peaceful space that invites people to linger, relax and admire the unique views up and down the Thames,” said the architects. The viewing platform will separate the


public promenade from the floating gangway and pontoon of the MBNA Thames Clippers terminal through distinct angles in the pier’s design, making this appear seemingly infinite from the river edge. The pontoon’s sheltered waiting area comprises a second timber ‘island’ – with integrated furniture and displays, enclosed in a metal shell, providing protection from the elements. The shelter’s design showcases a “playful


and contemporary response” to more traditional pier design, said the architects. The elevations are based on a regular rectangular form, cut and folded to align with the angles established by the pier’s path into the river. Similarly, a skewed and cut


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK Images © Nex


back roofline slopes to direct views down the river towards Canary Wharf and The O2. The layout creates increased open space around the shelter, allowing boats to dock easily and providing ample space for passengers. The large structural elements supporting the pier are concealed behind diagonal timber battens, “enhancing an impression of weightless floating,” said the architects. Royal Wharf Pier is part of the


Royal Wharf development. The new neighbourhood will comprise 3,385 riverside properties housing around 10,000 residents, and stands within the £3.5bn Royal Docks regeneration area. Its townhouses, duplexes, apartments and suites are inspired by the classical heritage of London’s great squares and neighbourhoods and are focused around Sovereign Place – a new market square filled with shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. 45 per cent of the 40 acre development is devoted to outside space, including a 500 metre riverfront promenade. Alan Dempsey, director at Nex— said, “In


working with Ballymore and continuing our interest in connecting people to place, we saw an opportunity to combine new transport infrastructure with a distinctive new public space for London floating over the Thames. The pier provides both residents of Royal Wharf and visitors with new access to the city, while also offering places to gather, sit and enjoy the remarkable views of the Millennium Park, Thames Barrier and Canary Wharf.” John Mulryan, group managing


director at Ballymore added, “Major new infrastructure like our Royal Wharf pier is a game-changer for east London’s connectivity – for north to south of the river, and into central London. Non-road travel is an essential part of the sustainability and growth of London’s commuter network, and this pier will soon be a part of that. Nex– has done an incredible job on the design and now construction is underway, the vision is one step closer to being realised.” It is anticipated the Pier will open to the public in late 2019.


ADF FEBRUARY 2019


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