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OMA trims green façades on £763m Greenwich towers proposal

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OMA has cut back plans for planted façades on its proposed 1,500-home Morden Wharf development close to the O2 Arena on the Greenwich Peninsula

The design changes emerged as an application for the long-awaited £763 million riverside scheme, backed by developer U+I, was lodged with the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

Rem Koolhaas’s practice revealed its initial proposals for the 7.6ha former Tate & Lyle sweeteners refinery site last October at a public consultation.

These early designs for the 178,300m² mixed-use scheme included vertical and horizontal ‘green façades’ on the towers, which the developer said at the time had been inspired by Jean Nouvel’s Le Nouvel KLCC tower in Kuala Lumpur.

However, in the submitted plans, the scale of these has since been reduced and they will not now extend the full height of the towers.

A spokesperson for the development team admitted the earlier concepts had been ‘refined’ to ensure the scheme was deliverable and could be maintained cost-effectively.

They said: ‘The façade greening for the Riverside Buildings has been pared back, but the buildings will have inset balconies incorporating in-built planters to allow residents to have their own planting areas.’

They added: ’The Parkside Towers [still] include green façades on the western and eastern elevations. The initial images represented a concept design, and the subsequent planning proposals have been subject to further work and detailed discussions with suppliers.

’The height of the greening has been reduced slightly as we cannot guarantee that the planting will be vital beyond 65m.’

Morden wharf riverside view boathouse crop ©pixelflakes

Morden wharf riverside view boathouse crop ©pixelflakes

The proposed scheme features 12 ‘tenure-blind residential buildings’, a large riverfront public park, a new public square, a series of maker spaces and light industrial units, a children’s nursery, shops and a new boathouse designed by Carmody Groarke, which will sit on an existing jetty (concept pictured left).

This waterfront building could become home for the Queen’s Royal Rowbarge, Gloriana.

An existing warehouse on the site of an old pub, The Sea Witch, destroyed by a bomb during the Second World War, will be retained to house a new pub together with a mix of refurbished workspace for creative businesses. 

OMA was first appointed to masterplan the site seven years ago after the site was bought in 2012 by Cathedral Group and Development Securities, which later merged to form U+I.

While the north of the site remains active industrial land, much of the southern site was cleared in 2009, apart from a large brick warehouse building and a former office building along Tunnel Avenue. 

Reinier de Graaf, Partner in charge of the project, OMA, said Morden Wharf had been ’designed to foster community and has the right mix of uses to create a successful and vibrant neighbourhood, all stitched together with beautiful public realm’.

He added: ’We have drawn design inspiration from Greenwich Peninsula’s industrial heritage – from the warehouses and silos that once sat on the site, to the iron lattice structure of the gasholders. We have also looked back further, to the original marshland landscape of the peninsula, and in creating the park and public realms we are seeking to return the post-industrial landscape to a more natural and ecologically diverse condition.’

Subject to planning approval, work is expected to start on site in 2023 and complete in 2033.

Morden wharf green facade 2019 to 2020

Morden Wharf: concept proposals from October 2019 (left) as submitted for planning in June 2020 (right)

Morden Wharf: concept proposals from October 2019 (left) as submitted for planning in June 2020 (right)

Project data

Client U+I/Morden College
Local authority Royal Borough of Greenwich
Architect OMA (residential), Chetwoods (industrial), Carmody Groake (boathouse)
Landscape architect Planit
Planning consultant Lichfields
Structural engineer Ramboll
M&E consultant Ramboll
Quantity surveyor Gardiner & Theobald
Lighting consultant Design for Lighting
Main contractor TBC
Start on site Spring 2023
Completion 2033
Contract duration 10 years
Gross internal floor area 178,300 m²
Form of contract TBC
Development value £763million

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