Earle Arney at AFK Studios discusses the inspiration behind the iconic designs for Bermondsey scheme

Following the unanimous planning approval by London Borough of Southwark, we spoke to Earle Arney, Chief Executive of Arney Fender Katsalidis about the thinking behind the design and their approach.

Earle said:

“We are delighted with our collaboration with First Base and Starwood Capital and the design vision we created with the London Borough of Southwark. 151-157 Tower Bridge Road is a project of civic repair at both the architectural and urban scale. Existing structures are adaptively reused, delivering much-needed housing for Londoners in a significantly reduced time period, while also enhancing the environmental sustainability of the development. The result is a reduction of over 1800 tonnes of CO2 which is equivalent to 720,000 trees.

The development, while very much of its time, deploys raw and robust materials to connect with the warehouse grain and materiality of Old Bermondsey. These textures are contrasted with glass-edged undulating balconies, the rhythm of which ensures deep light penetration to all apartments. A new square at the centre of the development creates a civic heart for the local community and will provide cafes, restaurants and co-working commercial spaces.

The development will open previously blocked walking routes across the site and establish for the Borough the potential of a green pedestrian spine linking St Mary Magdalen Churchyard Gardens to City Hall. We look forward to breathing new life into these neglected buildings and refreshing this part of Bermondsey with new public spaces and transformative pedestrian through-routes.”

Arney Fender Katsalidis’ design draws inspiration from the greenery in the neighbouring St Mary Magdalen’s Churchyard site. The existing buildings will be re-clad and the dark and closed façades will be replaced with hanging cantilevered balconies and terraces. The new façade will connect each apartment to the exterior and create an organic, unified form throughout.

The building’s relationship with Tower Bridge Road will be enhanced and re-orientated through the creation of a new link from Newham’s Row and Bermondsey High Street. The new walkway will open up the public realm and commercial space at the base of the development, whilst also activating a new connection between Bermondsey Village and the Thames.

Residential layouts will be reconfigured with the small units and studios being replaced with larger, improved units, which meet and exceed London Plan Standards. As well as offering an enhanced apart-hotel, the residential units will benefit from improved balcony amenity space.