Shortlist revealed for Royal Docks competition

22 February 2014

Competition Royal Docks London

The shortlist has now been revealed of the 20 most exciting water-sensitive design ideas, selected from 65 entries in a competition to find imaginative ideas to transform the world’s largest enclosed docks.

Selected from a total of 65 competition entries, the ideas range from floating villages to rain gardens and pedalos.

Launched by the Landscape Institute and Ecobuild, with support from the Mayor of London, London Borough of Newham and Open-City, and sponsorship from Marshalls, the competition looked for ambitious proposals to make the Royal Docks a world class, sustainable space more resilient to environmental, social and economic challenges.

All 20 shortlisted proposals tackle the issues of surface water flood risk, water pollution and drought.

An overall winner will be announced at Ecobuild, the world's leading event for sustainable design and construction at ExCel London in the Royal Docks on Wednesday 5 March 2014.

Speaking about the shortlist, Sue Illman, President of the Landscape Institute, said, 'It’s time we started to see water as a valuable resource – rather than something to be hidden away underground. Recent events in Somerset and elsewhere in the country have demonstrated that the UK desperately needs a fully integrated approach to flooding, water supply and land use management. The designs on the shortlist show what is possible if we adopt a mixed green, grey and blue infrastructure approach. I hope this competition helps stimulate debate about how we should be planning and managing more "liveable" and water-sensitive places in the future.'

Victoria Thornton, founding director of Open-City, said, 'The thought-provoking green designs demonstrate how neglected areas generally, as well as the Royal Docks, can be transformed into vibrant and liveable environments.'

The Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property, Richard Blakeway, said: 'With work underway to develop a world class innovation and business district, creating local jobs, homes and economic growth the Mayor’s vision is to restore London’s Royal Docks to their former glory as the throbbing arteries of UK trade and commerce. These innovative ideas demonstrate the enormous potential of this exciting new area, both on dry land and on the water.'

The shortlisting panel was:
Eleanor Byrne – Greater London Authority
Paul Clarke – Development Manager, Housing & Land Directorate, Greater London Authority
Nuala Gallagher – London Borough of Newham
Sue Illman – President, Landscape Institute
Thomas Lane – Group Technical Editor, Building Magazine & Ecobuild
Peter Massini – Urban Greening Team Leader, Greater London Authority
Victoria Thornton – CEO, London Open City.

The shortlist is as follows:
Biophilia by Studio Engleback is described as a framework  for a floating garden city. Housing, a square, offices reedbeds and a farm would all exist on the water, adding capacity to the capital and also landscape.

Silvertown Docks by Bethany Gale and Sarah Tolley proposes to use the existing  Silvertown Docks to provide space for flooding mitigation, habitat development, interaction with the water and play. 

The Resilient Docks by Shu Kuei Hsu of the University of Washington and Qian Qian Ye of Cornell University uses a  crescent ring to connect the entrance to the  Royal Docks, the Excel centre, a waterfront promenade, purified wetland and a teardrop-shaped hill. As well as acting as a connector, it forms a landmark in its own right.


Albert Island by B|D landscape architects introduces a prominent green link across the docks, providing improved public access and connectivity; a place for play, for nature and for people.  


Silvertown Quays and Minoco Wharf by Konrad Boncza-Pioro consists of five core elements, including an aquarium and fish farm, a centre for urban agriculture, a SUDs system and the restoration of wet woodland and an intertidal brackish environment.


Silvertown Green Docks by Artem Barkhin of Leeds Metropolitan University creates interconnected wetland forest on the east and west sides of the site as part of the accelerated regeneration of Silvertown.


Silvertown Wetlands by Andreas Boden and Malan Í Jákupsstovu will become a nature retreat, with the existing embankment removed to allow water to flow in at high tides, and a raised walkway to permit passage through the area.

Water Boulevards by Baharash Architecture uses these aqueous thoroughfares to weave existing surrounding communities together and to provide economic, environmental and social sustainability.



A Landmark for Living by Gensler proposes the transformation of the City Airport runway into a landmark park with a permeable embankment creating a path linking the Royal Docks to central London and beyond.

Re-Connecting the Docks by James Hartwell at the University of Sheffield proposes the creation of an urban farm beside the Thames, a linear public park called Wharf Park linking Victoria Dock with the Thames and a new neighbourhood within Victoria Dock, to be called Victoria Village.

The Ecosystems Engines is a submission from The Ecology Consultancy, The Green Roof Consultancy, Charlotte Harris Landscape Design and Marianna Magklara Architecture and Environmental Engineering. Clusters of gear-shaped pontoons connected by floating pathways will attenuate, clean and store rainwater and host a variety of wildlife habitats.


Floating Forest by Greysmith Associates uses the forest, which is unlike any of the surrounding landscape, to create a new focal crossing point at the heart of the Royal Docks.


Fade-In Landscape by GAAM Architectes proposes a greenway running along the docks which will connect and structure the neighbourhood around a strong axis.



'3 Systems' by Metrostudio UK would build an eco-platform as a carpet for cultural activities, commercial developments and new living areas.

Narcissus by Christos Diplas at the University of Sheffield places greenhouses in the water, which can act as community spaces for growing vegetables and hosting workshops and exhibitions. Technology includes aquaponics, algal pods and transparent photovoltaics.

The Sensory Docks is a proposal by Kay Pallaris, Jamie Abbott, Francesco Bernabei, Nick Udal, Briony Turner, Mena Shah, Francesca Guarascio and Luis Rojas. It imagines the use of blue and green infrastructure to address each of the five senses while creating new opportunities for commerce, housing, leisure and recreation.

Life in Technicolour by Carl Hong, Farah Dakkak and Brad Clothier aims to stimulate imaginations by creating public spaces, coupled with sensibility towards WSUD, global warming, climate and economic changes. It would include a public plaza, community farms and open/ playgrounds as spaces for community interaction. 


'E16 6BL' by Arup creates a technology-rich hub around London’s airport, using landscape to respond to the challenges of climate change, making beneficial use of the infrastructure, land use and services to form a warm and inviting public realm in a vast industrial setting. 

Project Float, by Jonathan Dancey at the University of Gloucestershire, is a scheme for a floating development across London Docklands, including residential and commercial areas alongside extensive recreation, play and parkland spaces.

'What if We Move the River?' by HWP Planungsgesellschaft mbH would combine Royal Albert Dock, King George V Dock and Royal Victoria Dock to form a new River course – as well as unlocking land to form a New River Thames Park. 

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