The Bankside area is one of the oldest parts of Southwark. Once an important centre for entertainment venues in the 16th and 17th centuries, the area has recently seen tremendous change and regeneration, encouraged by developments such as Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre and the Millennium Bridge.
The site occupies a complex, irregular space between Southwark, Sumner and Holland Streets, with particular urban constraints in an area of transition ranging from the large volumes and heights of Tate Modern and the Bankside 1/2/3 office development to a series of adjacent, listed two-storey almshouses.
The brief was to design a modern landmark scheme which will provide a high quality residential element within a vibrant mixed-use development. It also required that the design established a positive relationship to its context and, in particular, to its immediate neighbour, Tate Modern and the proposed extension. The site is typified by an inconsistent urban grain with poorly defined street edges. The proposal provides an opportunity to significantly improve links between Southwark, the Thames and Tate Modern.
RSHP’s response seeks to link the diverse scale of the surrounding buildings, and address the urban grain whilst reinforcing the street edges to provide greater definition between the site and surrounding streets.
The configuration of the buildings fronting onto Southwark Street creates the possibility of a new ‘marker’ for the area, helping to ‘signal’ the main approach to Tate Modern and the opportunity for north/south permeability through the site. Moving the mass of the buildings away from Southwark Street as well as from the almshouses, helps to mediate between the differential in scale - the five individual buildings step in height in response to the neighbouring properties. The grain of the development encourages permeability and public connectivity through the site, further animated by retail uses. The resulting public realm extends the landscape themes from Tate Modern’s own local environment resulting in a more consistent physical environment than currently exists. The proposal also complements and extends the ground level activities contained in Bankside 1/2/3 and provides a soft, landscaped backdrop to the almshouses.
The Bankside area has evolved a diverse mix of accommodation, from medieval almshouses to the large industrial volume of Tate Modern. The stepping of heights between the five buildings of Project Bankside helps to mediate this.
The buildings sit within a landscape scheme that unites them and ties the scheme into the local context. The scheme will have a positive impact on the area by dramatically increasing the connectivity of Southwark to the Thames and Tate Modern via public routes through the development at ground level.
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