Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Eric Parry's designs on Southwark

  • Comment
news in pictures

Those who attended the 1996 exhibition of design ideas for Southwark may recall video footage of commuters, school children, locals and tourists navigating fragmented pedestrian routes, dominated by structures built not for humans but for traffic and trains. Architects were asked to produce design ideas as part of an initiative by Southwark Council, the Architecture Foundation, and the Government Office for London. The footage was taken by Eric Parry Architects, prom0ting a scheme which celebrated the area's diversity, while alleviating pedestrian disorientation.

For the past two years, epa has worked with local groups and institutions, consultants and the London Borough of Southwark to develop its submission into a workable scheme. 'We had a budget of £300,000 for hard landscaping, says epa's Stephen Witherford. 'We could spread the money and try to improve pedestrian surfaces services throughout the area, or focus on a small space. We decided to intensify the use of the corner between London Bridge and Duke Street Hill. Intensification is a key strategy.'

epa plans to redefine the wide corner pavement as a public space, marked by a 16m-high tapering stone monument. Originally, the architect envisaged an 'information wall' serving local residents and tourists. Coincidentally, a study of tourism commissioned by Southwark identified the corner opposite the site as the ideal spot for a tourist and information centre. epa suggested that the centre could be inserted into the disused space beneath the concrete ramp adjacent to the new public space. The Centre includes space for exhibitions and meetings, and will serve locals as well as tourists, who are expected in their droves with the 1999 opening of the Tate Gallery at Bankside.

Witherford describes the centre as 'a lightweight insertion, to contrast with the vast surrounding structure'. Lightweight decks, stepped to follow the existing sloping roof, span between existing columns, and are connected by a ramp. The envisaged information wall has re-emerged as a 24-hour interactive display window, which will light the public space at night.

The building, with a projected 10-year life, can be unclipped from the existing structure. Planning permission was granted in October 1997, and the project goes out to tender early this year.

True to the Borough of Southwark's original intentions, the project remains, in Witherford's words, 'more about the public realm than about making buildings', and is a prototype for future regeneration. It knits together the disjointed surroundings by creating a route from the newly created public space to Tooley Street, six metres lower. A hydraulic lift will improve disabled access in the area, taking members of the public from the foot of London Bridge to Tooley Street. The lift will be of glass and stainless steel, contrasting with the mass of monumental stone.



CLIENT: London Borough of Southwark regeneration and environment department. Project co-ordination Craig Bradley

ARCHITECT: Eric Parry: Stephen Witherford, Justin Sayer, Darren Andrews, Peter Ferretto, Emma Huckett


QUANTITY SURVEYOR: Dearle and Henderson

MECHANICAL ENGINEER: Michael Popper Associates




  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.