A floating space for London

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Floating Space

Work begins on Royal Wharf Pier, a new riverboat terminal incorporating a large new public floating space on the Thames – designed by London-based architects Nex—

The 130m long pier, located in Ballymore and Oxley’s Royal Wharf development in London’s Royal Docks, will be the most distinctive pier on the Thames, offering a perspective on the river from a 162m2 viewing platform, and marking the practice’s first major venture into infrastructure.

Following an invited competition in 2016, Nex— 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 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.

Featuring integrated seating and elegantly 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.

Alan Dempsey at director at Nex— commented: “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.”

The floating space design showcases a playful and contemporary response to more traditional pier design. 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. The large structural elements supporting the pier are concealed behind diagonal timber battens, enhancing an impression of weightless floating space.

This new neighbourhood for London 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.

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, which we reveal in further detail today. Now that construction is underway, the vision is one step closer to being realised.”

Royal Wharf Pier is anticipated to open to the public in late 2019.

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