London is a fantastic city with vibrant streets, parks and squares. The city is not a frozen memorial to its history, it evolves, so as its urban fabric changes, responding to challenges of the city, hidden opportunities are revealed.
One of these opportunities awaiting change is a plot, currently occupied by tower bridge hotel – a monumental, over-sized, out of scale concrete structure, placed in prime location next to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and overlooking the river Thames. According to some ratings, it is considered to be one of the ugliest buildings in central London.
Constructed in the 1970s, the building is clearly out of date and no longer responds positively to its context. Situated in such an iconic location, adjacent to several of London’s greatest tourist attractions, the opportunity is enormous.
Analysis and critique of the existing condition: Poorly connected / integrated to surrounding urban fabric, weak frontages and lack of character and programming for surrounding public spaces.
Historical map, photos and paintings, capturing project site in different times and under different circumstances.
Former wharf / warehouse brick buildings, narrow internal "Little Thames" street with overhead pedestrian bridges connecting wharf building with warehouse + internal courtyard. All of the above - list of the historical features typical for London riverfront character.
As an architect, I relish the opportunity to not only speculate but actually curiously re-imagine spaces around me, continually looking for solutions and improvements. How can this place become better integrated, respectful to context, capitalizing on the value of the views and proximity to iconic landmarks? How can you make this parcel of land belong to residents/community, to become a vibrant piece of city, to become a PLACE, where people would like to spend time and enjoy?Form-finding:
Current condition vs proposed:
Existing vs proposed: finer grain of the urban fabric properly integrated and connected to surrounding context. Little Thames Square becomes the heart of the site, shaped by active frontages and front-doors
New vs existing riverfront character:
Set of framework diagrams, describing proposed scheme: Parking, access, circulation/connectivity, delivery, active frontages/edge condition and landscape programming.
Maximizing value of London Skyline + creating sequence of spaces for future residents to occupy and explore.
Irongate Grove, facing the riverfront acts as a buffer plaza between the building with the rooftop lido and river Thames: active and vibrant south facing linear park, which equally belongs to guests and residents.
New Irongate Street follows alignment of the old Little Thames street, replicating its industrial warehouse character, using brick, "balconies - bridges", connecting buildings. Intense footfall on the ground level is supported by vibrant retail stores, cafes and restaurants.
Little Thames Square, a central arrival plaza, is the heart of the scheme. All of the buildings are grouped around is the culmination of the pedestrian links. Mixture of hard and soft spaces gives freedom for flexible uses, depending on season and event programming.
St. Katharine's beach - attempt to put Londoners and city guests properly in touch with river Thames, introducing wooden deck, stepping down towards waterfront. Sunbathing clerks, tourists and local residents will keep this place busy and occupied on a low-tide sunny day.
There's ongoing trend, where architects are trying to become psychologists and present their work with visuals, which look like social media posts, capturing stories from real people. Where project proposal actually steps back and become background scene for someone’s life. Where experience becomes central and focal to the observer, which helps to bridge strong emotional connection and empathy.