The instantly recognisable Thames river loop that literally defines the eastern outpost ofGreenwich Peninsula on the London map is currently experiencing a major creative and architectural transformation. Best known as the site of the O2 arena, formerly the Millennium Dome, this industrial wasteland is starting to emerge as a new hub of culture and entertainment.
Masterplanning this in its entirety are developers Knight Dragon, whose ambitious regeneration scheme will see the development of 190 acres of homes, schools and shops, along with a thriving arts, culture and leisure scene catering for both residents and visitors alike.
The first residential apartments designed by SOM Architects and Tom Dixon Design Research Studio are currently under construction and earlier this month I was invited along for a taster of what to expect.
Dixon's interiors at Greenwich Peninsula have a cinematic quality - luxurious, but with a gritty, almost noirish edge that reflects the post industrial landscape from which they are emerging.
"Just add whisky" was one of the comments I received on Twitter when I posted this picture of the penthouse we stayed in.
What attracted Dixon to the project was the scope for involvement not only in the interior design of the apartments, but also in aspects of the urban planning of the peninsula. The project offered the opportunity to be involved in "place-making", developing a long term vision for a whole new district of London, with the studio playing a role in the design of the park and pavilions too.
The apartments incorporate distinctly British materials including copper, brick and enamel from the makers of the London Underground signage. Leather, wood, marble and dichroic glass also feature prominently. Forms are bold and sculptural and colour and transparency are layered to provide depth.
The coherence of vision behind this regeneration, and the strength of the design team that has been assembled to deliver it, is impressive. Design by committee this is not.
Alongside the residential development the first cultural elements in the transformation of the peninsula are already in place, with the opening of several new bars and restaurants including Craft London by Tom Dixon and Stevie Parle and Vinothec Compass at the peninsula's new riverside Golf Range, impressively set against the Canary Wharf skyline. Gallerist Steve Lazarides recently opened a print studio producing high quality limited edition prints from a number of artists at the forefront of contemporary printmaking, and the NOW gallery, designed by Marks Barfield and set amidst gardens conceptualised by Tom Dixon's Design Research Studio and landscaped by Thomas Hoblyn and Alys Fowler, hosts commissions from established and emerging artists and designers.
Next month Alex Chinneck will install a huge sculpture against the skyline as one of the headline events for the 2015 London Design Festival. Commissioned by the festival in collaboration with Knight Dragon, the installation will be a visual beacon that acknowledges the site's rich industrial history while also reflecting the scale of the transformation that is now underway.
On the Peninsula
Above: clockwise from top
- Ravensbourne College by Foreign Office Architects.
- Some of the 600 different wines on offer at Vinothec Compass at Peninsula Golf Range.
- 'A Slice of Reality' by Richard Wilson - sliced vertical section of a sand dredger.
Checking into Heartbreak Hotel - immersive theatre at The Jetty.
Craft London by Stevie Parle and Tom Dixon serves up a menu of mainly British produce, some of which is grown in the neighbouring kitchen garden. There are some excellent British wines too.
Clockwise from top:
- Quantum Cloud by Anthony Gormley looms in front of the Emirates Air Line.
- Hand stitched glass bead installation by Phoebe English at the NOW Gallery.
- Dusk across the Thames.
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With thanks to Knight Dragon for hosting us.
Photography by Design Hunter.