CZWG’s East Riverside receives planning consent

Five retained arches of the old Tram Depot front a new south facing Public Square on Leven Road. Behind them three new varied height curved plan towers overlook the wide bend of Bow Creek.

Historically the site was built as Poplar Tram Depot and as such presented a blank elevation to the inaccessible riverside. The scheme opens up public access to the river with two attractive links to the new riverside walkway / cycleway where public facing uses such as cafés alternate with eddies of green space for hanging out. The five great arched entrances to the Tram Depot are retained and front a sunny public space on Leven Road. A dramatic landscape design of alternate CoreTen and granite paving enhances the formality of the frontage.

This residential led mixed use scheme also features a retained workshop building with a spectacular truss roof, a three storey occupied bridge structure over the route from Leven Road to the riverside, a row of raised ground floor maisonettes separated by large swooping buttresses of reclaimed brick, lushly landscaped residents’ shared gardens overlooking the water and a number of internal amenity spaces for residents to work and play. The dramatic riverside walk has protected eddies of space between the eroded lower floors of the cantilevering towers. These semi glazed brick towers defer in height to the adjacent Islay Wharf which marks the location of a proposed pedestrian / cycle bridge across the river. Geometrically their plans are made up of overlapping curved segments which form balconies and give the volumes a more dynamic appearance than pure circular drums. The rounded form maximises views of Bow Creek for the apartments in the buildings behind as well as those in the towers themselves.

The residential element of the scheme is 35% affordable. The larger commercial spaces on Leven Road will become a vibrant element of the emerging Fashion Quarter promoted in the local area by Poplar Harca.

East Riverside recently received planning consent from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The chair of the Planning Committee, in praising the scheme, unusually suggested that the towers might have been even better if they were taller! Surrounding riverside sites have all now come forward as developments so that this site becomes the last ‘jigsaw piece’ joining up the south west side of Bow Creek from Ailsa Wharf in the north to the former Poplar Gas works site in the East.

Piers Gough said "CZWG have a history of reinterpreting industrial riverside structures for residential use. Cascades was a riff on grain elevators, Dundee Wharf on cranes and mills, Millennium Harbour on cantilevering control rooms and Seacon Tower was channelling exoskeleton support structures. At Leven Road the towers are like well-oiled ribbed cooling cylinders of some imaginary industrial process”.

The Leven Road buildings in London stock brick defer to the near symmetry of the arches and retained office building whilst adding the sort of idiosyncratic elements that often accrue on working sites.