Located beside Ballymore and Oxley’s Royal Wharf development in London’s Royal Docks, our Royal Wharf Pier brings the very first floating public space to London and the Thames.
Joining forces with marine engineers Beckett Rankine we developed a design that could replace an existing, derelict jetty with a solution that harnesses infrastructure as an integral part of valuable public realm. As a result, the 130m long pier and its new riverboat terminal address the practical requirements of Thames Clippers’ traffic, while also providing a memorable and generous new public space that can be enjoyed by the community, Londoners and visitors alike.
The pier extends the Royal Wharf development’s riverside public realm with a promenade, which stretches 40m into the Thames and is publicly accessible all year-round. This linear open space is reminiscent of traditional British seaside piers, framing long, impressive views towards the horizon.
At the heart of the pier, a 162sqm public viewing platform provides a generous and peaceful space, featuring elegantly integrated bench seating at its centre to encourage people to linger, relax and admire the unobstructed views up and down the Thames.
The viewing platform also separates the public promenade from the floating gangway and pontoon of the Thames Clippers terminal, with our distinctly angular design making the pier appear seemingly infinite from the river edge. The patterned aluminium and timber balustrades used along the public promenade are also replicated along the floating walkway – conveying a sleek sense of continuity, here they extend above handrail height, creating a semi-enclosed space that provides commuters with shelter.
Arriving at the pontoon, the unusual skewed form and layout increased open space around the sheltered waiting area, allowing boats to dock easily and providing ample circulation space for passengers.
Offering a striking silhouette from the Thames Clippers service as it travels down the river, the sheltered waiting area showcases a playful response to its setting. Cut and folded elevations define the shelter’s form, creating a sense of weightlessness by concealing the large structural elements supporting the pier, while the sloping roofline is angled to take advantage of direct views towards the towers of Canary Wharf, the City and The O2. The waiting area features a large glass façade and built-in seating enclosed within this metal shell, providing warmth and protection from the elements.
Drawing upon the ship-building processes used to manufacture the pier, a refined material palette speaks to both the practical needs and maritime setting of the project. The steel structure – painted dark grey to offer a contemporary look that weathers well – is complemented by the use of durable marine grade hardwood. This creates a sense of cohesion throughout the pier, providing welcoming finishes that enhance user experience of the pier. These high-quality finishes are gently emphasised with carefully integrated lighting, nestled within the balustrades and lining the edges of the outdoor timber seating.
- Royal Wharf Pier
- Ballymore + Oxley
- November 2019
- London, UK
- £5.5 Million
- Architect - Nex— Principal Designer - Beckett Rankine Main contractor - McLaughlin and Harvey M&E consultant - Tate Planning consultant - Rolfe Judd Quantity surveyor - Huntley Cartwright Glass Engineering - Eckersley O’Callaghan Lighting - DHA Design