A NEW beginning

Extracts from ‘The Local History of One Tower Bridge’ by John Schofield & Hugh Pearman


in the last edition of River magazine, we looked at the local history of Berkeley Homes’ One Tower Bridge development which dates back 2,000 years. Now we look to the future.

The Southwark waterfront from London Bridge to Tower Bridge, part of the ancient Pool of London, was radically developed from the 1980s. 1981 saw the formation of the London Docklands Development Corporation, which brought with it Government incentives to regenerate the area – indeed it could be said to have laid the foundations for very recent developments such as architect Renzo Piano’s Shard.

The master plan drawn up by the London Bridge City developers with the LDDC envisaged individual phases to connect along the river to Tower Bridge; this is where the Potter’s Field site started to receive an extraordinary level of attention. By the late 1980s there was a strong traditionalist movement in architecture, encouraged by Prince Charles who disliked modernism. However this boom quickly turned into a deep economic recession and the area’s various schemes were quietly shelved.

The 1990s saw a return to modernism and a new crop of audacious proposals. One serious bid was for a temporary opera house (whilst the actual Royal Opera House in Covent Garden was being rebuilt); another proposed a rather elegant elevated L-shaped block of apartments, raised high on stilts to allow views beneath it through to the river. Yet again these got no further.

Having been the poor relation of the north bank for so long, the south bank of the river was becoming very popular and so a public walkway was created, running along what had previously been private wharfs. A string of attractions started to form, from County Hall in the west, to the Butler’s Wharf restaurant and Design Museum in Shad Thames. The Tate Modern Art Gallery had also successfully taken up residence in the former Bankside Power Station, whilst architect Norman Foster’s Millennium Bridge connected it to the wealth and tourist hordes of the City and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Meanwhile, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre was proving a big hit, and the former wholesale vegetable market at Borough had become a foodie destination. To finish the movement, London’s new City Hall, again by Foster, was built close to Potter’s Field as part of the enormous ‘More London’ office development.
South of the river had become über-cool, and whilst City Hall and More London were built, the new public park of Potter’s Fields – wrapping around two sides of One Tower Bridge – was created. Now, all that remained was the long-awaited redevelopment of the remaining part of the site.

So, a deal was struck: Southwark and Berkeley Homes joined forces to promote an all-new scheme, designed by the well-regarded architects Squire and Partners. In July 2010 – a remarkable 42 years after the shipping wharfs were closed – this scheme won planning permission and work began immediately. A uniquely-sited residential and cultural development could finally take place.

Knowing all this helps to explain the design of One Tower Bridge. It is confident, even bold, but still acts as a well-mannered backdrop to the eye-catching architecture surrounding it. The development’s form and shape is generated by two key visual corridors – one forming a diagonal vista towards Tower Bridge, and the other running south to north, from the broad space where Tooley Street and Tower Bridge Road meet, to the southern tower of the bridge itself.

The One Tower Bridge enclave displays considerable design variety, with subtle details incorporated into its complex geometry. The whole composition is anchored by a slender ‘campanile’ residential tower which – with a double-height ground floor, four storeys of apartments, and twin-floor rhomboidal penthouses topped by roof gardens – is a building of great urban presence that unifies the site.

Much else is happening nearby, the arrival of the Shard and the characterful Bermondsey Street – home to the largest of the White Cube contemporary art galleries amongst much else. In the centre of all this, London Bridge Station has been redesigned as a first-rate transport hub.

One Tower Bridge is more than a prime residential and cultural quarter on which a huge amount of design attention has been lavished; it serves to reinforce the extraordinary revitalisation of one of the most historical parts of London as a place to live, work and visit.

Apartments at One Tower Bridge start at £785,000 and are now for sale. This outstanding development offers 1, 2, 3 and 4 bed apartments, all with balconies or terraces and some with direct river views. Residents have the use of private spa and gymnasium facilities, Urban Golf and a business lounge.
For more information, please contact:

(Temporary location)
The Pavilion, Empire Square,
Long Lane
t: 020 7871 0011
w: www.onetowerbridge.co.uk

“One serious bid was for a temporary opera house


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  • SPOTLIGHT Properties Elephant & Castle
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  • A NEW beginning Extracts from ‘The Local History of One Tower Bridge’
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