Re-imagined marina wins Royal Docks design competition at Ecobuild

A new type of marina for London's Docklands was the idea that most impressed the judges of the Royal Docks Ideas Competition.

One of the visualisations of Silvertown Docks. Picture: Bethany Gale
One of the visualisations of Silvertown Docks. Picture: Bethany Gale

Silvertown Docks by Bethany Gale and Sarah Tolley was announced as the winning design after a debate about the regeneration of the area at the Ecobuild trade fair in Docklands yesterday.

The competition asked landscape architects to come up with the most imaginative and water-sensitive ideas to transform the world’s largest enclosed docks.

Silvertown Dock was chosen from more than 65 entries and an impressive 20-entry shortlist. In the design, the former graving dock for shipbuilding and repair is transformed into a vibrant series of spaces that encourage sport, leisure and wildlife preservation. The two winners receive £2,000 in prize money.

Speaking about the project, the judges said: "This has a sense of place and a notion of history. It has a seeming effortlessness that comes together into something that is believable. It creates a green oasis in the docks and has elements that will appeal to everybody, humanising the dock and softening its hard edges, making the most of existing assets."

Launched by the Landscape Institute and Ecobuild, with support from the Mayor of London, London Borough of Newham and Open-City, and sponsorship from Marshalls, the competition looked for ambitious proposals to make the Royal Docks a world class, sustainable space more resilient to environmental, social and economic challenges.

Gale and Tolley’s Silvertown Docks  provides space for flooding mitigation and habitat development.  It recognises the area as both a visitor attraction and a neighbourhood by creating a community space with exciting hub for sport, leisure and wildlife preservation.  Its green axis would link Thames Barrier Park through to the Crystal, Emirates cable car and DLR station improving accessibility to the site.

In their entry the two said: "Silvertown Docks proposes a new type of marina for the Royal Docks that balances the past with the present. Once used as a graving dock for shipbuilding and repair, the site is transformed into a unique series of spaces that encourage both ecological and human uses."

Second prize was awarded to E16 6BL by Arup, a masterplan to create a technology hub around London City Airport with new flood defences, large-scale food production roofs and walls, and systems to re-use waste from industries and outfall sewers to generate energy.

The judges chose four runners-up.  Narcissus by student Christos Diplas which places greenhouses in the water to act as community spaces for growing vegetables.  Re-connecting the Docks by student James Hartwell which proposes an urban farm, a linear park connecting Victoria Dock with the Thames and a new neighbourhood within Victoria Dock.  Biophilia by Studio Engleback proposes a floating garden city, complete with Boris pedalos, with a new square, offices, reedbeds and a farm – all existing on the water.  Water Boulevards by Baharash Architecture is a network of sustainable ‘water boulevards’ to transform the Royal Docks into a series of floating villages.

Earlier at the event a debate, chaired by Landscape Institute president Sue Illman had looked at the issue of water sensitive urban design. For a report see the March 21st edition of Horticulture Week.

The judges were:

  • Peter Barbalov – Partner, Farrell
  • Richard Blakeway – Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property, Greater London Authority
  • Jamie Dean – Regeneration Manager, North East Area, Greater London Authority
  • Nuala Gallagher – London Borough of Newham
  • Sue Illman – President, Landscape Institute
  • Thomas Lane – Group Technical Editor, Building Magazine & Ecobuild
  • Mike Luddy – Managing Director, Royal Docks Management Authority
  • Victoria Thornton – Founding Director, Open-City.

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