A project that matters ...

Stratford Waterfront is one of the most thrilling things to happen in London since the Olympic Games. For the big names expanding east, it is a chance to tap into new audiences. The public realm is key to drawing the crowds.

Stratford Waterfront

Stratford Waterfront: Creating common ground.

“My vision for East Bank is one where everyone, regardless of their background, can access world-class culture and education on their doorstep. East Bank is a fantastic collaboration of inter-disciplinary work and world-class institutions that will drive forward growth and inspire more young Londoners to take up creative careers, transforming the communities of east London.”

Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn

East Bank is a major gain for London.

Eastward ho!

Stratford Waterfront is part of East Bank, an ambitious £1.1 billion development in the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that spreads across three sites, the others being UCL East and Here East.

Set to become London’s next big tourist destination, the plans represent the largest cultural investment in London since the Festival of Britain and the South Bank in the 1950s.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn, who is backing the scheme with an investment of £385 million, said it signposts an important shift east in London’s cultural centre of gravity.

East Bank will create thousands of good jobs for local people and attract 10,000 or more students. The economic benefit is estimated to be in the region of £1.5 billion. 

A shared mission for common good

Stratford Waterfront builds on east London’s rich creativity. For the renowned organisations putting down roots here, there is a sense of excitement at the prospect of new partnerships and a shared mission.

The hope is that when young Londoners can access world-class culture and education on their doorstep, regardless of their background, many more will be inspired to take up creative careers. To deliver on this hope, care has been taken to ensure that lower levels are permeable, with open edges.

Big names heading to Stratford Waterfront include the V&A, London College of Fashion, BBC and Sadler’s Wells.

The site, which sits north of the Aquatics Centre, will provide the London College of Fashion with a significant new home, a hub for innovation that will include a programme of outreach into local schools.

The BBC’s music recording-operations will sit alongside a new Victoria & Albert Museum outpost and a 550-seat Sadler’s Wells theatre. All are enthusiastic about building relationships with established creatives in the area, such as Studio Wayne McGregor and Theatre Royal Stratford East.

There will also be 600 new homes.

Why the landscape is key

Much rests on the public realm’s ability to draw people in if bold ambitions for greater inclusivity are to be realised at Stratford Waterfront. Local people need to feel that the offer from places like V&A East is meant for them.

The challenge is threefold: the shared spaces must not only serve to unify the very different buildings, but also support a programme of activity curated by the cultural institutions and create opportunities for informal cultural exchange and encounter.

Stratford Waterfront
Stratford Waterfront

Stratford Waterfront draws deeply on its Park setting

The drawings of Prussian explorer and naturalists, Alexander Von Humboldt, provided inspiration for our approach to the planting for the waterfront.

The drawings of Prussian explorer and naturalists, Alexander Von Humboldt, provided inspiration for our approach to the planting for the waterfront

Unearthing the river and making it the hero is what made Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park so special, and it continues to play a vital part in creating coherence as the Park develops out. Stratford Waterfront’s public realm must make a bold response to it, at a scale to match the buildings.

LDA Design’s approach gifts the Park with a distinct new attraction: a dramatic and sculptural landscape framed by the buildings above. It reflects the strong characteristics of the Park, with a focus on the River Lea.

A shared mission for common good

Stratford Waterfront builds on east London’s rich creativity. For the renowned organisations putting down roots here, there is a sense of excitement at the prospect of new partnerships and a shared mission.

The hope is that when young Londoners can access world-class culture and education on their doorstep, regardless of their background, many more will be inspired to take up creative careers. To deliver on this hope, care has been taken to ensure that lower levels are permeable, with open edges.

Rising to the challenge

Taking its cue from the Southbank, a series of terraces gradually rise to provide gentle and inviting routes from the Park up and into the public buildings. They feature robust, hardwearing materials used across the Park, including concrete and chunky timber seating, reflecting the post-industrial nature of the site. This extends the materiality principles of the Lea River Park of which Stratford Waterfront is the most northerly point. The terraces will be places for play, attracting families with children. Lovely intimate spaces throughout are defined by strong planting.

The topography is steep enough to bring to mind sketches of plant distribution in the Andes by 19th century Prussian explorer and naturalist, Alexander Von Humboldt.

With these drawings as inspiration, we used changes in vegetation to alter the character of the spaces. The lower levels by the river are richly verdant; planting gradually becomes sparser and opens out towards the top to create larger spaces for art installations, music, dance, or even outdoor workshops. The species of plants change with altitude as well as spatial change.

Our vision for Stratford Waterfront brings together art, culture and nature. This will be a distinctively different place that draws in people from all walks of life for its food markets and art fairs, performance dance and free recitals, fashion shows and outdoor exhibitions. The possibilities emerging from cultural overlap are exhilarating.

LDA Design is part of the design team led by Allies and Morrison.

Stratford Waterfront

The BBC and Sadler’s Wells will be looking to reach new audiences as they expand into east London.

Client
V&A, London School of Fashion, BBC, Sadler’s Wells, UCL, LLDC

Location
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

Services
Landscape Architecture

Key contact
Andrew Harland

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