Berkeley Homes commissioned Ian Ritchie Architects to design a mixed-use development comprising cultural, community and commercial activity at ground level with over 380 private and affordable apartments above. Potters Fields is close to Tower Bridge and directly across from the Tower of London, a World Heritage Site. Potters Fields Park is a significant public open space intensely used by local people and tourists alike and strongly linked by the river walkway to other important regeneration projects on the south bank of the river.
The urban design strategy sought a typology that would be sympathetic to both the historic grain of the Shad Thames area to the east and the monolithic grain of the More London Office Development immediately to the west. Early shadow analysis for different building forms and mass suggested a fragmented approach to massing. From this emerged the idea of a family of slender, tapered ‘mini-towers’ standing like ‘pavilions’ in an extension of the existing park. This massing strategy allows views, light and sky to penetrate through the site and results in a dynamic urban composition.
The ground level masterplan and landscape strategy focus on linking up pedestrian connections across the site and the creation of a network of open spaces integrated with the existing park with commercial and cultural activities reinforcing this.
The towers are elliptical in plan and tapered in section. The cladding design proposes clear and translucent triple glazed panels. Continuous balconies at each floor level eliminate downdrafts and are edged with a laminated glass balustrade. This is the building ‘veil’ which provides a subtle visual screen to the accommodation behind. Its varying ceramic frit pattern provides solar shading and will reduce surface reflections. The design of the corner building to the south-east picks up some of the design themes expressed in the tower but also re-establishes a coherent street edge to Tower Bridge Road. The location and mass of the building give an appropriate scale that will help frame the views approaching Tower Bridge from the South.
The scheme was the subject of a public inquiry, the result of which was the inspector’s resounding endorsement of a ‘world class design’ and the Secretary of State’s recommendation. The scheme commenced on site in 2007 but was stopped when ground level construction was completed on the Berkeley Homes owned site due to London Borough of Southwark’s resistance to allow the scheme to be implemented on their part of the site.