Ballymore + Oxley

Royal Wharf Pier

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.

The 130m long pier and its new riverboat terminal address the practical requirements of Thames Clippers’ traffic while also providing a memorable 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 toward the horizon.


At the heart of the pier, a 162 sqm public viewing platform provides a generous public space. It features 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. Patterned aluminium and timber railings used along the public promenade are continued along the floating walkway. They extend above handrail height, creating a semi-enclosed space that shelters commuters.

Arriving at the pontoon, the skewed form and layout increased open space around the sheltered waiting area, allowing boats to dock easily and providing ample circulation space for passengers.

“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 is a vital part of that. Nex has done an incredible job on the design.

Nex listened carefully to our needs as the client, and also considered the needs of the thousands of people using the pier as well as addressing the technical and logistical challenge of building upon the River Thames. The result is a building that goes beyond infrastructure: while it acts as an elegant yet practical point of arrival and embarkation for Thames Clippers, the incorporation of a unique floating public space was an inspired move that cleverly addressed technical challenges, and lifts both the pier and its setting."

John Mulryan, Group Managing Director at Ballymore

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. 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 the project’s practical needs and maritime setting. The steel structure – painted dark grey to offer a contemporary look that weathers well – is complemented by durable marine-grade hardwood. This creates a sense of cohesion throughout the pier, providing welcoming finishes that enhance the user experience. 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
£5.7 Million
Public Realm
Alan DempseyRowan MorriceShimin CaoJames Foster
Day Photos: James BrittainNight Photos: GavriiLux
Architect: Nex— Principal Designer: Beckett Rankine Contractor: McLaughlin and Harvey M&E Consultant: Tate Planning: Rolfe Judd Quantity Surveyor: Huntley Cartwright Glass Engineer: Eckersley O’Callaghan Lighting: DHA Design