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.