London Docklands Architecture Cycle Tour - Saturday 23 October 2021 10.30amRegular price £9.50
Join Open City for a ‘ride out’ exploring the most unique and compelling architecture of the London Docklands.
Led by up-and-coming architectural designers Aidan Hall and Rosalind Peebles, this socially-distanced tour focuses on Rotherhithe and tells the story of what was the largest redevelopment project in Europe in its time.
Filling a void left by the collapse of local shipping and manufacturing, the London Docklands regeneration covered an area roughly equal to the size of Venice – a comparison not lost by the most prominent urban visionaries of the time, from Alison and Peter Smithson to the area’s chief architect, Ted Hollamby.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, London’s Docklands became a battleground where shifting ideological visions collided. It was a battle fought between local campaigners, local governments, central government, a development corporation (London Docklands Development Corporation) and an increasingly deregulated private sector. All hoped the Docklands would represent their own version of the future.
Reflecting on these conflicting tensions, a 1973 report by consultants Travers Morgan proposed five radically different options for the area: all involving large-scale transformation.
The firm imagined turning the capital’s disused docks into a huge wooded parkland; a city on water; a revitalised industrial quarter; a socially-mixed and densely populated new town; and ‘Europa’ – new home to the financial services, linked by a rapid transit system and made to rival the City. Completed almost two decades later, the area’s actual redevelopment inherited all of these ideas.
This tour visits Docklands as we find it today: a strange and surprising conflation of these radical, opposing visions reflecting a society undergoing dramatic changes.
Participants will experience the wooded parkland of Stave Hill offering stunning views of the corporate vertical city of Canary Wharf; roll through Surrey Basin’s and Greenland Dock’s romantic pastiche waterside residential neighbourhoods; visit the charming postmodern housing enclaves of Elephant Lane, Bywater Place and Hollyoake Court; and follow the preserved narrow streets, warehouses, tenements and pubs of historic Rotherhithe Street.
The route finishes at Pepys Estate – a dense and widely celebrated social housing neighbourhood seemingly from another era – which was designed by Hollamby years earlier and completed just a decade before his wider vision for the Docklands emerged.
Meet: Bermondsey Beach, SE16 4TT. Duration: 2-2.5 hours approx. Tour ends at the Victoria pub Deptford SE8 3QQ. Concession (students/unemployed/furloughed).
Route: This route is 8km approx. This tour has an Open City cycle tour difficulty rating of easy. Participants must be competent riders and bring their own bicycle.
* there is some overlap with this tour and our Hidden Infrastructure Cycle Tour exploring the footprint, route and present legacy of south east London’s long-lost Grand Surrey Canal led by Cameron Bray. If you have attended this one you may not want to book this one.