Reinvigorating the riverside
Commended - Public Spaces, New London Awards
Playful installations reinvigorate a stretch of riverside, creating a new South Bank destination.
Sitting on the South Bank of the River Thames, Nine Elms is a fluid piece of cityscape undergoing rapid change. With the glossy new American Embassy already built, the area is set to play host for 20,000 new residents in coming years. It’s quite the transformation for a quarter once humming with factories, wharves and breakers yards.
We needed a vision that could accommodate dynamic change, while recasting a forgotten stretch of the Thames Path as an exciting extension to the South Bank. For us that meant digging deep in Nine Elm’s backstory to find the thread that would tie the landscape’s past to its future. Through meticulous research we uncovered a compelling local narrative that could play out across a string of pocket parks, all linked by a reinvigorated Thames Path.
Along with expansive river views and convivial seating, the parks offer a rolling roster of temporary and permanent interventions which reference different chapters in the area’s past – as it moved from rural idyll to Huguenot refuge, industrial powerhouse and beyond.
The installations are an invitation to join the conversation about Nine Elm’s past – while enjoying inspiring new public spaces designed for the future.
It’s a playful, accessible outdoor ‘gallery’ which draws on a local tradition of idiosyncratic public display - begun by the Dutch collector, John Tradescant, more than three hundred years before. His ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ was a collection of the weird and the wonderful, displayed in a grand old house nearby.
For a site with multiple owners, in the midst of mass transformation, this is an agile solution with flexibility to add or subtract new instalments at will - a far cry from the grand gestures of Albert and Victoria embankments further along the shore.
"We’re firm believers in creating landscapes with a sense of fun – places which inject a little joy into the everyday"