Water sensitive designs on Royal Docks shortlist

A shortlist of 20 water sensitive designs has been selected in a competition to find imaginative ideas to transform the world's largest enclosed docks.

What if we moved the river? By HWP Planungsgesellschaft mbH
What if we moved the river? By HWP Planungsgesellschaft mbH

Launched by the Landscape Institute (LI) 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.

While they may be highly imaginative, the ideas are not just creative thinking, London Mayor Boris Johnson plans to find a development partner to deliver a floating village at the western end of Royal Victoria Dock.

The shortlist includes a network of flood-friendly floating villages, a park which never needs watering, a SUDS forest, flood defences, hydroponic roofs and a floating garden city with 'Boris pedalos' instead of bikes.

All 20 design proposals tackle the issues of surface water flood risk, water pollution and drought.

President of the LI Sue Illman, who has championed water sensitive design throughout her presidency, said: "It’s time we started to see water as a valuable resource – rather than something to be hidden away underground. Recent events in Somerset and elsewhere in the country have demonstrated that the UK desperately needs a fully integrated approach to flooding, water supply and land use management.

"The designs on the shortlist show what is possible if we adopt a mixed green, grey and blue infrastructure approach. I hope this competition helps stimulate debate about how we should be planning and managing more liveable and water sensitive places in the future."

Founding director of Open-City Victoria Thornton called the entries through-provoking and said they demonstrated how neglected areas generally could be transformed into
vibrant and liveable environments.

London's Deputy Mayor for Housing, land and property, Richard Blakeway, said: "With work underway to develop a world class innovation and business district, creating local jobs, homes and economic growth the Mayor’s vision is to restore London’s Royal Docks to their former glory.

"These innovative ideas demonstrate the enormous potential of this exciting new area, both on dry land and on the water."

An overall winner will be announced at sustainable design and construction exhibition Ecobuild at ExCel London in the Royal Docks on March 5.

An accompanying panel debate ‘Greening the Docks’ will take place between at Ecobuild from 4.30pm. Speakers include Richard Blakeway, Sue Illman, Lars Gemzøe, Gehl Architects and Peter Barbalov, Terry Farrell & Partners.

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