Convoys Wharf, London

Convoys Wharf - Design

The Convoys Wharf masterplan comprises a number of key elements that structure the overall layout of the site. Two key axes, one running north–south connecting Deptford High Street with the Thames, and another running east–west, connecting the heart of the site with Grove Street, along with a number of secondary routes, provide legibility and access across the site. A number of development parcels, defined by these primary axes and secondary routes, are able to be developed in stages and to accommodate a mix of land use, building types and scale of development.

The development ranges from four storeys at the edges of the site and builds up in height as it moves towards the water’s edge. The predominant massing of six to eight storeys establishes the urban grain, while three residential towers of 26, 32 and 40 storeys mark the three principal routes into the heart of the site and form a dramatic new setting for the Olympia Warehouse and the main square. These high rise buildings deliberately alter the skyline, and are designed to be visible from both the river and the hinterland, signifying a new public destination, and acting as markers of regeneration.

Other strategies include ‘fringe knitting’ through a series of specifically designed responses of varying height linking and integrating the new development to the wide variety of edge conditions opened up through the removal of the boundary wall.

A series of ‘gateways’ into the site are identified with distinctive corner treatments, while a ‘permeable ground’ means that all buildings, especially along main routes, front onto streets and public spaces and have active uses to the ground floor. This allows a high degree of flexibility and penetration, thereby encouraging pedestrians to use the site to its fullest extent.

The masterplan includes the creation of a number of important views and vistas that celebrate local historic landmarks such as the Olympia Warehouse and the Double Dry Dock, as well as those outside the site such as Sayes Court Gardens and the Shipwright’s Palace. In the wider context, views to Canary Wharf to the north, Deptford High Street to the south and Greenwich to the east will be opened up by the development and will add visual interest and connectivity to the broader context and historic setting.

Three tall buildings punctuate the site, providing a visual focus and identity both within the development and when viewed from afar. Within the site, a series of legible routes and street patterns will facilitate activity and interaction across the site.

A number of parcels within the site are able to be developed in stages to meet market demand over time. The masterplan is sufficiently robust to allow flexibility to accommodate changing circumstances over the lifespan of the project, ensuring that the right balance of activities are able to meet the socio-economic demands of the area.

The site itself is highly visible from the river, although conversely it currently exists in a state of almost total isolation, with a three metre high wall surrounding the site on three sides. Over the last century, the river has lost its place as the focus for the city’s activities, however Convoys Wharf holds the opportunity to reunite Londoners with the river, and to restore dignity to a historical part of London’s working waterfront.