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A new piece of London

Royal Wharf is a new Thames-side district of East London equivalent in size to the Barbican and Golden Lane Estates combined.

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In Episode 569 of Moncole's the Urbanist, Will Poole discusses the challenges and opportunities when working on waterside developments. Listen here.

Aerial view of the completed estate

From brownfield to neighbourhood

Transformed from an out-of-bounds landscape of disused dock infrastructure, the 15.2-hectare neighbourhood is home to around 10,000 in the London Borough of Newham. A measure of the success of Royal Wharf’s new urbanism is that the masterplanning principles we embedded have been embraced not only in subsequent buildings from architects including Mae, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Serie but as a part of a wider development strategy for the London Borough of Newham extending far beyond the red line of the site boundary.

  • Concept: connecting east with west

    Connecting east with west

  • Our wider plan for the area

    Our wider plan for the area

People and place

We believe that the key to successful places are mixed demographics, housing types and tenures—with streets and homes that people aspire to live in a vital part of balanced and strong communities. Looking to the urban characteristics of typically successful residential districts forged in the 19th century, we investigated a new urbanism for Newham focused on grid densities, building heights, road and pavement widths and people-to-park-space ratios.

Our research defined an overarching design code for Royal Wharf—a vocabulary of streets, squares, parks, heights, materiality and colouring. Reinterpreting traditional terraced housing for the 21st century, our Townhouses ­were among the first buildings at Royal Wharf, leading the way in demonstrating a familiar yet calm and contemporary urban streetscape of three- and four-storey terraces screened by hedged front gardens and bookended by taller mansion blocks and the placemaking markers of carefully sited residential towers.


  • Reinterpretation of the traditional terrace

    Reinterpretation of the traditional terrace

  • Model of a 2,400 sq ft Townhouse

    2,400 sq ft Townhouse

  • Model of a 1,800 sq ft Townhouse

    1,800 sq ft Townhouse

  • Model of a 1,500 sq ft Townhouse

    1,500 sq ft Townhouse

Terrace street

A tapestry of open spaces

By Ryan Bulled

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  • The Market Square

A wide-angle view

As masterplanners of a new piece of city, our first task was to formulate a bold, overarching vision to steer successful placemaking. Our next task was to communicate that strategy in a clear and compelling narrative to stakeholders, including the GLA (Greater London Authority), Newham and the London Legacy Development Corporation.

Looking at the bigger London picture, we sketched the river context several miles east and west of Royal Wharf’s Thames frontage, exploring ways for a new community to address London’s river. Understanding that key to a sustainable neighbourhood was to look beyond the site’s high-value frontage, we analysed local networks of green spaces, community infrastructure and transport stretching from Canary Wharf to the Thames Barrier.


  • View of Riverwalk stretching from Lyle Park to Thames Barrier Park

    Riverwalk stretches from Lyle Park to Thames Barrier Park

  • View of the riverfront

    A curated riverfront

  • View of the riverfront from Royal Wharf Pier

    View of the riverfront from Royal Wharf Pier

Concept masterplan model

Community and future phases

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  • Royal Wharf Primary School
  • View of waterside apartments taking full advantage of the 3-metre picture windows

A pivotal early urban planning move was to create a high street through the site, connecting adjacent communities with the river, a new Thames Clipper stop and inland DLR stations. Royal Wharf’s high street also gathers essential local amenities, including dentists, doctors and food shops, with themed clusters of use carefully curated in collaboration with placemaking agency Future Cities. A new-build primary school for 420 children, a nursery with 60 places and a community centre located at the heart of Royal Wharf lay the groundwork for a cohesive and socially connected community.

Central to efficient and more sustainable delivery of new homes at Royal Wharf is a balanced approach to modern methods of construction, with thermally efficient façades of 60/40 solid-to-glazing ratio being factory manufactured for rapid on-site assembly.

  • Royal Wharf Primary School

    Royal Wharf Primary School

  • The Market Square

    The Market Square

  • View north shows the proximity to the DLR

    View north shows the proximity to the DLR

  • The relocated Silvertown War Memorial

    The relocated Silvertown War Memorial

  • Mansion blocks with central courtyards

    Mansion blocks with central courtyards

Client Oxley and Ballymore
Location Royal Docks, London
Size 15.2 ha
Status Completed 2020
Homes 3,385
Awards RESI Award 2015
Team
Glenn Howells
Daniel Mulligan
Alan McCartney
Shauna Bradley
Ryan Bulled
Cristina Rubio Gonzalez
Lee Hodgetts
Any questions?