Potters Field Park PavilionsEdit profile
Client Brief Potter’s Fields Park occupies a unique position within London. It is in juxtaposition to the historic context of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, and the new development of City Hall and the More London Development by Foster and Partners. It is one of the most significant green spaces on the south bank of the Thames within the London metropolitan area. In addition to its role as a green corridor between these major tourist landmarks, it performs a vital function as a local park in the London Bridge area. The client’s brief was to design a pair of gateway pavilions at two separate entrances to the Park, in collaboration with landscape architects GrossMax. Parkside Pavilion, situated next to City Hall, accommodates a new café, public conveniences, ATM points, and unusually, existing vent shafts to the GLA and a garage for the huge window-cleaning crane that cleans City Hall. The second pavilion, Blossom Square, rests in the shadow of Tower Bridge and the proposed site for the new Berkeley Homes development adjacent to the Queens Walk, and provides retail facilities, a sheltered seating area and park store. Both buildings are made of stacked horizontal timber; one with a charred blackened finish, the other of a lightened calcified appearance and a green roof. The designs set out to provide a human scale of architecture in contrast to their larger neighbours and as such are conceived as grottoes within the park. Their carved form is derived from movement and view analysis; ensuring that the buildings act as both a gateway and a place to rest, without becoming an obstacle to the significant pedestrian flows and views in their vicinity. Occupying the foreground to the Tower of London UNESCO World Heritage site and the Grade 1 Listed Tower Bridge, Blossom Square Pavilion does not attempt to compete with its grand neighbours and as a result provides the scale of intimacy demanded by the park. Planning and Social Constraints The Pavilions have different owners and very different planning and social constraints. Parkside Pavilion is privately owned by Morelondon and is constrained by 3 ownership boundary conditions, not to mention the vast turning circle of the cleaning machine. It primarily provides amenity to locals, visitors and Morelondon office workers. Blossom Square Pavilion is publicly owned and managed by the Potters Fields Park Management Trust, a not-for-profit legacy organisation. Its primary social objective is to generate revenue to reinvest back into the park to provide long-term, high-quality and dedicated management and maintenance services of the park for years to come for local residents, workers and visitors to the area. Choice of Materials and Methods of Construction There is a strong tradition of dark, timber clad buildings set within the parks of London. The design adds to this precedent whilst acknowledging specific local conditions. In particular, its materiality is derived from seeking an emotional quality to the site; anecdotes from local people, as well as historic documents, relate how the area was subject to severe bombing during the Second World War, yet no evidence was found in the existing context. Therefore history is reflected in the use of charred timber. Our Research and Development group independently evolved through a pragmatic and iterative design process the method of achieving a durable charred finish to the renewably-sourced timber rain screen. This was developed at a commercial scale in collaboration with the façade subcontractors. In contrast, Parkside Pavilion provides a foil and counterpoint to the modern glass and aluminium rhetoric of City Hall. It is purposefully different and independent of its neighbours, even though its form is derived from its context. It offers a timeless tactile quality and resonance, asking the viewer to question what it is and why it is there. Its eroded form relates to the duration of cities over time and suggests that specificity and localness need to actively engage with more global forms of architecture.