The project was commissioned by the Joint Venture Mowlem-Clayform and was submitted as illustrative supporting material and informed the financial developer bid to the LDDC. Three elements provided a primary direction for the development’s architectural and urban concept:
– the historic East India Dock Wall
– the historic waterspace of the Import Dock
– protection from the surrounding motorways
The concept brings the water into the northern part of the site, and landscape into the southern part adjacent to the East India Dock Wall.
The disposition of the built form essentially encloses the landscaped area. The East India Dock Wall is terminated by a marker building at the south-eastern end, demarcating the entrance to this part of Docklands. At the west end, a smaller sign sculpture is proposed, functioning as a time piece or weather register visible from the Blackwall Tunnel Approach motorway (A102M). Strategically, the high buildings are to the northern and eastern edges of the site, responding in scale to the Reuters building to the south and the new Financial Times printing centre to the north.
The new landscape will provide the business community with a landscaped sanctuary which, complementing the historic infrastructure will enhance its sense of place.
The office buildings along the northern boundary are conceived with an internal daylit street, along which are located the service cores to the individual office units/floors. The southern edge of this building, three metres above the landscaped level, is an external arcaded public street enlivened by specialist retail units. This northern building is ‘cracked’ at the line of the old dock wall to provide a dynamic context for the interplay of the water with the building and provide a focus within the internal street.
The south-eastern boundary of the site is terminated by the twenty-six storey tower.
The eastern boundary presents a positive response to the expanse of water, landscape and road system by providing an urban backdrop and public frontage.
Traffic access is predominantly from the north and is restricted to the northern boundary zone of the site. Some traffic will access the site from the Naval Row Conservation Area and will also be visually restricted within the site. Car parking is provided at lower ground and ground levels under all of the buildings, but not under the landscaped area.
It is envisaged that the buildings will be constructed of cream coloured reconstituted stone, glass and stainless steel with the swimming club and greenhouse/teahouse having a much lighter feel, possibly exploiting fabric canopy roofs.
The total development proposed in this concept has a plot ratio of approximately 3.6:1 generating 67,000 sq m/720,000 sq ft gross.