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Thamesmead Waterfront

30 April 2021

We are delighted to be part of Prior and Partner’s energetic and creative team and together to have won the £8bn Thamesmead Waterfront international competition. Our long tradition of working together on trailblazing projects – at Kings Cross, the Olympic and post-Olympic masterplans and in North Essex, had those garden communities gone ahead, continues with Thamesmead.

The team has shown total commitment to effective co-design and engagement from the start. In steering the codesign process Soundings marshalled the ‘Creative Engagement Team’ consisting of JA Projects, the Place Bureau, Turner Projects, Sage Culture and Work Wild while also building strong links with Carl Turner of Turner Works, and Marc Keohler Architects who will work together with Alison Brooks to offer a digitally sourced, bespoke housing offer – what he refers to as ‘housing +’ within a ‘living neighbourhood’. This collaborative and co-creative approach appears to have been well recognised in the client feedback.

As reported in the AJ (AJ On-Line – 29 April, 2021), this extraordianry project has the potential to be a game changer in the way masterplans are developed and delivered. The shared vision is of microplanning driving, situating and testing macroplanning (see ‘Micro to Macro’ images below showing how vidoegraphies of everyday life will be a key means of understanding place and aspirations, building narratives and informing scenario planning to lead to a sensitised masterplan built around ‘platform’ projects). As part of this, buildings and structures will emerge directly from indigenous events, cultures and institutions through ‘seeding’ design, meanwhile structures and platform projects; the latter being exemplary and pioneering co-designed buildings and places, which will help to particularise and anchor the wider masterplan. So … working with JA projects we can expect a kayak club to morph into a treasured sporting tradition or local ‘global’ food to be celebrated and enjoyed. With Carl Turner the local radio station RTM FM and TACO (Thamesmead Arts and Cultural Organisation) may well move into a more significant, public building in meanwhile iterations. With Marc, well, we will only know when the dialogue is under way. Micro to Macro will be played out in the housing, the landscapes, the cultural offer and the growth of the local economy.

As well as the socialisation of design, the team will explore how digital processes and modular but bespoke housing assemblies can be pushed further, to finally unleash potentials that have been building for the past two decades. The ways we design and build are changing fast. We need to exploit some vast potentials here.

Peabody’s John Lewis said ‘We now have an opportunity for genuine place-making with cultural curation, leisure, connectivity, sustainability and wellbeing at the forefront of our thinking. Putting people first, we want to create a wonderful new mixed-use town centre for Thamesmead, with an approach that complements the wider regeneration of the town.’

The shortlist