Tony Fretton Architects has completed a new 190m² café and restaurant next to the Tower of London
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Commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces, the timber-clad scheme close to Tower Bridge, which had an original budget of £440,000, adds to an existing assembly of pavilions, including a ticket office and river frontage kiosks around the Grade I-listed landmark.
Source: Peter Cook
The architect’s view
Tower Wharf Café provides indoor and alfresco dining on the wharf, serving the 2.5 million tourists that visit the Tower of London each year. It adds to an assembly of pavilions, including a ticket office and river frontage kiosks. Positioned closer to the Tower and further from the main tourist entrance than these kiosks the new building demanded a design that is visibly striking and fanciful. It takes its cue from the Tower itself instead of the hi-tech architecture of the neighbouring City district or generic garden pavilion architecture.
The new building responds playfully to the Tower’s outer wall, an assembly of towers and curtain walls of differing height and form. It is made up of four linked volumes, housed in two discrete forms: one is like the castellated wall turned upside down with the space between the battlements becoming glazed
recesses. The other is a long low-rise form joining the arch under Tower Bridge. Both are clad in rough sawn English Sweet Chestnut timber in a vertical formation. The timber is painted grey to match the hues and tones of the Kentish Ragstone rubble with limestone dressing of the Tower Walls and the Cornish granite blocks with Portland Stone dressing of the bridge. The use of rough timber continues the tradition of using the material in the utilitarian buildings that have historically occupied this site on the wharf.
Tower Wharf Café is a significant addition to London’s cultural and historical riverside. The design demonstrates sensitivity to the heritage of the Tower whilst acknowledging the popular culture of the wharf.