Thames Path, Nine Elms

Establishing a new route and destination on the South Bank of the Thames

Temporary and Permanent interventions form this new public landscape at the heart of Nine Elms, revealing hidden stories of Thameside London 

 

The project forms part of the emerging public realm associated with the regeneration of Nine Elms: a previously forgotten corner of south west London which is now transforming rapidly, becoming home to 20,000 new residents and the location for the new American Embassy.

On completion, this new piece of riverside public realm will provide an extension to the South Bank from Lambeth to Battersea. Phase One, running from Vauxhall to Marsh Wall provides three new pocket parks and 800 metres of connecting pathway. It provides new recreational space for the emerging community of Nine Elms. 

This is a fluid piece of cityscape that is in a state of almost daily change. Set against this transformational backdrop, the first green shoots of a new urban landscape are starting to emerge.

 

This section of Thames riverside represents a mosaic of ownerships and interests. Unlike the Albert and Victoria embankments could never be conceived as a single grand gesture. The concept had to be to establish a strong underlying narrative with a solid contextual basis that could be interpreted and delivered in a variety of ways by many different agencies. The concept of the ‘Nine Realms’ celebrates quirks and idiosyncrasies to deliver multiple spatial experiences.

The design response consists of both temporary and permanent interventions, delivered in a piecemeal and sometimes chaotic manner, but with an end state which reads as a single composition. As such this section of the Thames Path develops its own identity and a sense of self awareness. It celebrates the rich story of this section of the Thames which evolved through rural idyll, Huguenot fields, cottage industries, power station and industrial yards and finally new residential quarter, a microcosm of Thameside London. 

 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)
 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)
 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)
 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)

The Thames Path project transforms a challenging piece of public realm into a new public asset to be be enjoyed by all.

 

While not designed to suit a specific group, the detailing allows the space and its components to be both playful and restful. This particular quarter of London has a rich heritage of presenting artefacts for public consumption: Tradescant’s Cabinet of Curiosities displaying objects of intrigue from new-found lands to C16th Londoners. The elements echo past stories, referencing the rich buried narrative of London’s Nine Elms, allowing its back story to be shared with both the established and newly arrived communities.