The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) has launched a design contest to transform a disused space beneath the Silvertown Flyover into a creative workspace
The competition, aimed at emerging architects, seeks ‘viable and deliverable’ proposals to convert a series of unused spaces beneath a busy raised road next to WilkinsonEyre’s £30 million Siemens Crystal.
The project, backed by the Greater London Authority and London Borough of Newham, aims to boost opportunities for creative businesses in the Royal Docks area of the East End where 4,000 new homes and 650,000m² of fresh commercial space are planned.
According to the brief: ‘A permeable space is needed that creates a distinct and attractive area, with a range of spaces for working, production and innovation, creating new employment opportunities for Newham residents and Londoners.
‘We also seek proposals that take into account the development coming forward in the area, including your ideas for interventions in the surrounding public realm and wayfinding interventions that improve legibility in the area. You should set out how your project might function as a key piece of connective infrastructure over the next two, five and ten years as surrounding development and infrastructure projects come forward for development.’
The Royal Docks and surrounding area were constructed in the 1850s, and abandoned just over a century later. They have long been tipped as London’s next major regeneration opportunity. In 2012 the 170ha of land and 96ha of water was transformed into an enterprise zone, promoting a range of schemes including plans for a floating residential village.
Local landmarks include WilkinsonEyre’s new base for Siemens, dubbed ‘The Crystal’; the Excel exhibition centre, which was expanded by Grimshaw in 2010; and the competition-winning Royal Victoria Dock Bridge by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.
Planned developments in the area include a £1 billion Asian Business Port masterplanned and designed by Terry Farrell with second stage concepts by Buckley Grey Yeoman, Fletcher Priest, Cartwright Pickard, Maccreanor Lavington and Panter Hudspith. Fletcher Priest Architects’ £3.5 billion regeneration scheme of Silvertown Quays also won planning in 2015.
The latest commission seeks to forge new connections between emerging spaces for creative businesses in the area, such as the Carlsberg Tetley building and Waterfront Studios.
In January, emerging Camberwell-based practice IF_DO won a separate LFA contest for a temporary events pavilion outside John Soane’s Grade II*-listed Dulwich Picture Gallery.
The studio’s winning design will be constructed in time for the start of this year’s LFA on 1 June, and will mark the gallery’s 200th anniversary.
Commenting on the latest contest launch, LFA director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘As well as encouraging people to look at London in different ways, the London Festival of Architecture has always sought to achieve positive and lasting changes to London’s public realm.
‘The Silvertown Flyover competition is a brilliant opportunity to engage fresh architectural talent and establish a creative re-use for this key location in the Royal Docks.’
James Murray, London deputy mayor for housing and residential development, added: ‘We are committed to working in partnership with the London Borough of Newham to invest in the Royal Docks to accelerate delivery of a new business district for London, creating up to 40,000 jobs and 4,000 homes.
‘The Silvertown Flyover design competition is a perfect way to mark the beginning of our exciting new partnership and will give emerging architects a brilliant opportunity to reshape a difficult yet fascinating space in London, and play a part in the ongoing transformation of the Royal Docks.’
Applicants should first submit a brief team summary, expression of interest and initial project sketch on two A3-sized boards. Up to six shortlisted teams will then receive £500 each to participate in the competition’s design stage.
Competition judges include Chris Dyson of Chris Dyson Architects, Arts Council England London area director Joyce Wilson and the LFA’s Tansie Thomson.
The winning team, set to be announced during LFA in June, will work with the project backers to take the scheme forward. Shortlisted designs will also feature in a public exhibition during the festival.
The deadline for applications is midday on 4 April.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information