Blackwall Yard Riverboat Pier

Blackwall Yard Riverboat Pier

Alongside the wider proposals for the comprehensive redevelopment of Blackwall Yard, White Arkitekter designed a new pier and riverboat stop which provides a much-needed link on the north bank of the Thames for existing and new communities. The new structure and riverboat service incorporate the history and heritage of the site back into the public realm, and ultimately strengthens the connection between people and place.

Enhancing connection to the river

Located to the south of the Naval Row Conservation Area, an area of special architectural and historic interest, the pier sits at the eastern edge of the Blackwall Yard Development Site, on the north bank of the Thames.

The introduction of the Thames Clipper riverboat service and cross-river ferry will enhance the accessibility to the Blackwall Yard site and promote an improved cross-river connection.

Client: Hadley Property Group
Location: Tower Hamlets, London, UK
Status: Planning submitted February 2021.
Contractor: TBC
Visuals: Uniform, White Arkitekter

Alongside its functional purpose, the pier forms an extension to the Thames Path and enhances the experience and views of the river.

The Thames Clipper runs daily on the River Thames, currently transporting around 10,000 passengers per day. The future ambition for the commercial riverboat service is the creation of a “river tube line” extending further east to Silvertown, Thamesmead and Barking, which would ease congestion on London’s transport systems and provide better quality, cheaper travel. The pier also provides the opportunity for a cross-river ferry at Blackwall Yard to bring commuters to The O2 Arena, adding much needed river crossings at significantly lower cost than bridges or tunnels.


Elegant functionality

The robust and elegant design strategy for the pier comprises three main components; the pontoon, the brow and the bankseat, which sits at the intersection of three bridges. Two shelters are located on the pontoon where the routes merge. The pontoon and shelters are conceived as a single architectural form, framing the views of the dock and The O2, and simple benches are placed along the ramp where users can sit and wait for the ferry in fine weather. The minimal and robust material palette emphasises the functionality of components: metal for the structural elements of the shelters and railings, and wood for the tactile surfaces of the pontoon, brow and benches.

This project gave us a rare opportunity to design an architectural gem in a prime location on the river Thames. Whilst enhancing the connectivity of Blackwall Yard and the wider area, the new riverboat pier also enriches the public realm of the neighbourhood, framing unique views of the city, and contributes significantly to the site’s biodiversity.
Michael Woodford, Project Director

Follies in the landscape

Alongside its functional purpose, the pier forms an extension to the Thames Path and enhances the experience and views of the river. The pier’s location, at a significant bend in the river, offers far reaching views up and down the River Thames, both in the East and West directions. The bankseat and pontoon form part of a series of ‘follies’ demarcating a journey through the site between East India DLR station and the pier. In this way, the pier design becomes integrated as part of the landscape story of Blackwall Yard and the Thames Path. Each of these follies has both a functional and decorative purpose, acting as shelters as well as framing views of landmarks, establishing points of reference in the landscape.


Creating new habitats

The project team worked closely with the Environment Agency to ensure that the proposal has minimal environmental impact. Several interventions were devised to provide opportunities for new habitats and contribute to the landscape including a series of ‘fish hotels’ hanging beneath the pier platform, a Biomatrix floating ecosystem with halophytic plants, and the addition of timber and rope to the structural piles to provide a habitat structure. The biodiverse roofs of the shelters will mimic the open mosaic habitats found along the estuary edge for the benefit of local wildlife, including coastal birds.

Contact & Team

Michael Woodford

Michael Woodford

Architect, Office director

+44 794 463 45 13

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