Townshend Landscape Architects Morelondon is situated on the south bank of the River Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Townshend Landscape Architects were appointed as landscape architects for the project in 1998 with a brief to develop a unique place, one with both an individual character which also retained the flexibility to evolve as part of an ever changing city. The scheme allowed for the incorporation the riverside walk and two principal areas of public space whilst allowing for a flexible response to the changing layout of the commercial office buildings. The concept was to create a base where layers of each landscape element could be laid out and the buildings ‘cookie cut’ into their plots. This manifested into a seamless carpet of blue Irish limestone paving flowing right across the site, overlain by three dimensional layers of trees, shrubs, hedging, groundcover, seating and water features. The paving reflects movement and directional flow and is articulated by the seating and planted areas.
The trees relate to a previous climax community on the site, thinning and breaking down to intermediate stages along the edges. Several water features were designed as an integral part of the public realm. The water relates to a network of tributaries flowing into the river and is concentrated at key visual points in the form of fountain jets on the north side of the buildings and as calmer water tables to the south west. The two are linked by a water rill to channel the eye, reflect the light and provide interest through the development. The overall effect created from the apparently random pattern of layers is a sense of character.
More than half of the site is accessible to the public and includes two large squares, one of which is a similar size to Parliament Square, and an amphitheatre, named The Scoop, that has already hosted several large public events. The Scoop, originally designed as a light well for the basement offices, was transformed into a sunken auditorium to accommodate 800 people, which now includes a programme of activities and events that comprise temporary art installations and exhibitions, drama education programmes. In particular Southwark Theatres Drama Education Partnership hold local fitness classes, free film screenings, theatre and music performances and the Mayor’s Thames Festival.
There is a tremendous amount of attention to detail in the technical construction which has enabled the landscape to appear seamless and simple whilst welcoming over 35,000 visitors a day. The landscape has been designed with hidden details such as the concealed drainage, now an industry standard, which was designed in association with ARUP, and the extraordinary lack of movement joints, achieved by using a combination semi-flexible construction and paving sizes, were the key to this clean, seamless feel.
Site-specific sculptures have been commissioned by leading artists including Stephan Balkenhol, Fiona Banner and David Batchelor. The last major phase of the development was completed after 11 years of continual development.
Location: London Borough of Southwark, United Kingdom
Client: More London Developments
Estimated Construction Value: £600m
Awards: BREEAM Outstanding rating for Block 7 | ‘Best Built Project’, London Planning Awards.
Consultant Team: Landscape Architect, Urban Designer Townshend Landscape Architects
Lead Architect: Foster + Partners,
Architects: Keith Williams Architects, Hawkins Brown, Jestico + Whiles, KSS Architects Ltd
Spatial Analysis Consultants: Space Syntax Limited
Lighting: GIA Equation
Water Features: The Fountain Workshop
Project Manager: Mace
Landscape Contractor: Skanska McNicholas plc
Soft Landscape Contractor: Willerby Landscapes
Quantity Surveyor: Davis Langdon