Architecture – NEO Bankside, London

Just to the rear of Tate Modern on London’s Southbank is NEO Bankside. It is built on a small pocket of land bordered by single-storey alms houses and Tate Modern. It’s a housing project, in which the developers have set a number of superb articulated towers onto the site adding new landscaping described as some of the best in London.

Not only is there housing, both social and private, there is green space to which the public are invited until 8pm, and the invitation extends to the shops and cafes within the complex.

The site has history: there was to have been a single tower that was struggling to fulfil the dual role of social and private housing. The new architects designed for the social housing to be on—site but with the agreement of Southwark it has been redistributed around the borough and almost all of it has so far been delivered.  A piece of land was given by the developers for public use to be managed by Tate as part of the planning agreement. The small footprint private towers sit in a public garden – till 8pm at least – with people invited in to use the shops and cafes or just sit and admire the luscious planting. There are also various sculptures within the public gardens. Overall the scheme contributes to a debate about urban design and building form and is a well-mannered example of a structurally expressive architecture.

CONTRACTOR: CARILLION PLC

STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS: WATERMAN GROUP

M&E ENGINEERS: HOARE LEA

QUANTITY SURVERY/COST CONSULTANT: WT PARTNERSHIPS

ARCHITECTS: GILLESPIE

COST: £132,000,000

I’ve select five images of various structures within the site. Significant is the articulation of the buildings, the expressed diagrid structure (argued for by the engineers, it was to have been hidden), the quality of the glazing systems and the external lifts make the scale feel almost cute.

NEO Bankside was one of six projects nominated for 2015’s Stirling Prize.

NEO Bankside #5

NEO Bankside #1

NEO Bankside #4

NEO Bankside #2

NEO Bankside #3

All images ©Tony Harratt/The Fuji Freak 2015

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