Work has started on a new £5.5 million riverboat terminal, designed by Nex, close to City Airport in east London
The 130m-long pier project, which the practice won ahead of the likes of HAL Architects after an invited competition in 2016, is part of Ballymore and Oxley’s huge 3,385-home Royal Wharf development.
The Royal Wharf Pier will become a stopping point for MBNA Thames Clippers River Bus Services, like the most recent pier to be built on The Thames – the Battersea Power Station pier in 2017.
Set to replace a derelict jetty, the scheme features a mid-point public seating area and a ‘playful’ sheltered waiting area.
Alan Dempsey, director at Nex, said: ‘[We] saw an opportunity to combine new transport infrastructure with a distinctive new public space for London floating over the Thames.
‘The pier provides both residents of Royal Wharf and visitors with new access to the city, while also offering places to gather, sit and enjoy the remarkable views of the Millennium Park, Thames Barrier and Canary Wharf.”
The pier is expected to open towards the end of this year.
The architect’s view
The pier uses strikingly contemporary design to replace a derelict jetty, addressing the practical requirements of MBNA Thames Clippers’ traffic while also providing an unusual and generous public space that can be enjoyed by all.
The pier’s fixed element acts as a linear open space, reminiscent of traditional British seaside piers. This frames long, straight views towards the horizon, and leads users onto a viewing platform set on the river. Featuring integrated seating and elegantly finished with durable marine grade timber, this is a peaceful space that invites people to linger, relax and admire the views up and down the Thames.
The viewing platform also separates the public promenade from the floating gangway and pontoon of the MBNA Thames Clippers terminal through distinct angles in the pier’s design, making this appear seemingly infinite from the river edge. Here the pontoon’s sheltered waiting area comprises a second timber ‘island’ – with integrated furniture and displays – enclosed in a metal shell, providing warmth and protection from the elements.
The shelter’s design showcases a playful and contemporary response to more traditional pier design. The elevations are based on a regular rectangular form, cut and folded to align with the angles established by the pier’s path into the river. Similarly, a skewed and cut back roofline slopes to direct views down the river towards Canary Wharf and The O2. The layout creates increased open space around the shelter, allowing boats to dock easily and providing ample space for passengers. The large structural elements supporting the pier are concealed behind diagonal timber battens, enhancing an impression of weightless floating.
Location: Royal Wharf, Newham
Type of project: Infrastructure/public realm
Client: Ballymore and Oxley
Landscape architect: Townsend [on river walk in the Royal Wharf development]
Planning consultant: Rolfe Judd
Structural engineer: Beckett Rankine
M&E consultant: Tate
Quantity surveyor: Huntley Cartwright
CDM adviser: Beckett Rankine
Lighting consultant: DHA
Main contractor: McLaughlin and Harvey
Tender date: July 2018
Start on site date: December 2018
Completion date: Autumn 2019
Contract duration: 12 months
Gross floor area: approx. 1,030m² (both canting brows: 471.4m², bank seat: 167m², pontoon: 394m²)
Form of contract and/or procurement: NEC contract
Total cost: £5.5million