A proposal to turn Silvertown Docks into a new type of marina that references the past while looking to the future has won the Royal Docks competition.
Developed by Bethany Gale and Sarah Tolley, landscape architects working respectively for Building Design Partnership and Levitt Bernstein, the scheme has beaten 64 other projects to win a prize of £2000.
The judges said of the project, ‘This has a sense of place and a notion of history. It has a seeming effortlessness that comes together into something that is believable. It creates a green oasis in the docks and has elements that will appeal to everybody, humanising the dock and softening its hard edges, making the most of existing assets.
Gale and Tolley described their project as follows: ‘Silvertown Docks proposes a new type of marina for the Royal Docks that balances the past with the present. Once used as a graving dock for shipbuilding and repair, the site is transformed into a unique series of spaces that encourage both ecological and human uses.
‘The proposal for the Silvertown Docks provides space for flooding mitigation, habitat development, interaction with the water and play. The docks to the West allow for a variety of wildlife to recolonise the area and thrive on sunken ships. This harks back to the site’s industrial past and provides a much needed green open space for the neighbouring communities.
‘The green axis links Thames Barrier Park through to the Crystal, Emirates cable car and DLR stations, adding legibility and accessibility to the site. Docks to the East then provide more interaction with the water, including opportunities for paddling, swimming, scuba diving and canoeing.
‘These will be supported by new mixed-use development plots that frame the docks and create active waterfront edges. Silvertown Docks recognises the area as both a visitor attraction and a neighbourhood and it aims to draw together the two elements with community space and an exciting hub for sport, leisure and wildlife preservation.’
Second prize of £1000 went to E16 6BL, a scheme by Arup. This is a masterplan to create a technology hub around London City Airport. The judges said, ‘This is an approach of technical expertise in addressing so many of the issues related to the docks. You can apply it as you need to, and the strategy is communicated very well.’
There were also four highly commended projects, each receiving £500.
Narcissus by Christos Diplas at 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 judges said: ‘There is something poetic about the images. It offers a real way of addressing the industrial hard edge of the docks. This is a fantastic design for a student.
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 judges said, ‘The idea of reactivating the old lock entrances is genius. Hartwell has majored on the urban form, on community orchard and on connecting people and water, which is a different emphasis. It recognises that the docks have always fed London.’
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. The judges said, ‘There is a practicality about this proposal. It brings back some of the vibrancy and vitality that the docks would once have had. There is a high employment density and a complete community on the water combining traditional maritime and land-based elements.'
Water Boulevards by Baharash Architecture uses aqueous thoroughfares to weave existing surrounding communities together and to provide economic, environmental and social sustainability. The judges said, ‘There were some very good concepts dealing with the issues of water and water management. The proposal integrates buildings and landscape and takes the docks through to the surrounding community to encourage an environment using water and greater biodiversity. It’s a simple and very effective idea.'
The judges were:
• Peter Barbalov – partner, Farrells
• Richard Blakeway – Greater London Authority
• Jamie Dean – Greater London Authority
• Nuala Gallagher – London Borough of Newham
• Sue Illman – President, Landscape Institute
• Thomas Lane – Group Technical Editor, Building Magazine & Ecobuild
• Mike Luddy – Royal Docks Management Authority
• Victoria Thornton – CEO, London Open City.