Location: London
Date: 2014
Client: British Land
Status: Competition
Size: 26,000 sqm
Credits: ACME Team (Xavier Bas, Julia Cano, Ben James, Friedrich Ludewig, Eleni Meladaki, Alicia Villagrá Ayuso)
Since the 16th century, England has imported timber in vast quantities, and large parts of the London Docklands were constructed for this purpose. In the 18th and 19th century, the Rotherhithe Peninsula became the central landing point for all timber arriving from the Baltics, Russia, Canada and Greenland. Large deep water docks were constructed for the loading and floating of timber logs. With the invention of containerised transport, the London docklands fell out of use as larger terminals were built downstream, and most of the Rotherhithe docks were landfilled with rubble to create development land. Master plans have been developed to create a new urban quarter around the last remaining waterbody, the old Canada Dock.
The proposal for one of the first buildings of the new master plan seeks to work with the molecular structure of timber to create a wooden building that is at once rooted in the history of the site and emblematic of its new purpose. The building will be the most visible and exposed block in the centre of the new development, and intended to be public and accessible across all levels.
A hexagonal structure made from cross-laminated timber creates a flexible structural lattice, able to form floors, enclosed cells and staircases, creating space for circulation, gardens and viewing platforms, cinemas and restaurants.