Peninsula Place, part of the Greenwich Peninsula redevelopment, is a billion pound landmark building, designed by architect, artist, and engineer, Santiago Calatrava. He was joined at today’s press conference by Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London), Peter Murray (NLA), and Richard Margree and Sammy Lee (Knight Dragon).
The conference this morning took place in the Now Gallery, which is part of the Gateway Pavilions. The space, which is on the doorstep of North Greenwich tube station, was designed by Marks Barfield, and is (as described by Margree) “a deliberate statement of intent by Knight Dragon as to what we wanted to do here, and the quality that we will bring.” This initial building - the literal and metaphorical gateway - is one which will set the tone for the development. Knight Dragon's overarching aim for the 150 acre site is to become an attractive and thriving community of seven neighbourhoods, and is why the team approached Santiago Calatrava almost two years ago to create something iconic for it’s landmark building. The design of Peninsula Place is a manifestation of “form perfectly match[ing] function”, as Calatrava sought to understand and celebrate this “critically important space in London”.
The Peninsula itself, as neither an island, nor widely considered as part of the city, has long been an overlooked section of London. Richard Margree, of Knight Dragon, spoke of the area as an impossible opportunity - explained to him over a phone call as “a piece of London you have never heard of”. It stands at 150 acres (twice the size of Soho), with 1.6 miles of river frontage; “an extraordinary blank canvas” which just so happens to have the jubilee line, “the world's most successful entertainment arena”, the historical pull of the meridian line, and with Canary Wharf, and London City Airport on the doorstep. This ‘developer’s dream’ is set to become a new hub of London; a place for art, culture, and a busy community. With outstanding transport links (including Crossrail in 2018) and Canary Wharf casting a shadow over the ground, it is difficult to understand how this area of London could have been overlooked by developers until now. Khan spoke of the potential of the peninsula site, explaining how the area is flexible, diverse, and completely changeable from day to night, and that he himself had been in the neighbouring O2 arena a mere 10 hours before at a concert.
Known for his public realm projects from Bilbao to New York, Sadiq Khan noted that after Calatrava’s international practice, he is now ready to design in London. “Bilbao was a rehearsal for...Greenwich Pensinsula”.
Although the site lies in the shadow of the city’s famous business district, Canary Wharf, Margree was keen to emphasise that of the 2500 homes which will form part of the development by 2018, over one third will be affordable. These 950 homesteads along with retail, £500m of public spaces, and a new film studio, are set to attract talent and creativity; something which Khan is keen to encourage.
Khan spoke of the £8.4 billion regeneration of the peninsula area as being both a symbol and a magnet for talent. “London is open”, he reiterated, noting that Sammy Lee of Knight Dragon was one of the first people he spoke to about keeping the development of London Moving, post-Brexit. He spoke of the great efforts made by the local borough to regenerate the area, and praised the teams involved for providing "much-needed infrastructure" and creating "genuinely affordable homes for Londoners". The seven neighbourhoods will provide 15,720 new homes over the coming years.
Calatrava spoke passionately of his links to London, and his admiration for British design and our ‘attention to detail’ throughout the city, telling us “You cannot image how important the project is for me”. He spoke of his "affinity with this city" and fondly of his first art exhibition, which was held at the RIBA many years ago.
This project is a synthesis of his work to date, creating a “heart” for the area, bringing together elements of design in which he has extensive experience; landscaping, transport, bridges and public spaces. With Peninsula Place, he aims to “dignify and highlight the particularities of this place”, and create a new centre for the capital; not only does the scheme incorporate a residential area of 400,000 sq ft, but also a new tube and bus station, a theatre, cinema, hotel, bars, retail, and a wellbeing centre. Set to be a thriving hub for the 'Peninsular Central' neighbourhood, the scheme will be set next to two buildings, from Greenwich Peninsula's masterplanners, Allies and Morrison.
The considered design welcomes the public from the tube station into a winter garden, reaching 80 foot overhead, and stretching for 500 feet in length. This first space, the Galleria, will be flooded with natural light, as the three tower step up and back away from the center of this 'urban forest'.
A land bridge, which will connect the main Galleria space and the Meridian Square public park, is very much an integral part of Calatrava's 1.4 million sq ft design. Connecting the riverfront to the building via a public park creates a journey, and aims to attract the public from a large radius to the cultural hub.