Tom Dixon's Peninsula Garden nods to its heritage while helping to sustain its future
A slice of lush green garden has emerged from the grey construction site on London's Greenwich Peninsula, where developers Knight Dragon are currently in the daunting process of constructing a new urban village on this formerly industrial stretch of the Thames. The Peninsula Garden, which sits alongside the soon-to-be-built No.2 Riverside apartments by SOM architects and Tom Dixon's Design Research Studio, is part of a much bigger Manhattan-style masterplan comprising five districts of homes, shops, art, entertainment and culture.
Originally an area of tidal marshes, the Peninsula was decimated by pollution from Victorian shipyards and factories in the late 1800s. It wasn't until the early 90s that the Peninsula began its slow-moving regeneration that peaked with the arrival of North Greenwich tube and the O2 Arena in 1999. It's current phase of redevelopment is expected to take even longer - an estimated 25 years - and the new garden, designed by Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio together with landscape gardeners Alys Fowler and Thomas Hoblyn, is a stepping stone in this process.
'The design of the garden peels back the layers of history,' says Dixon, 'exposing the forms of the original mud flats, reintroducing apples from the market gardens and a palette of material from its industrial and nautical past.
'We tried to find the correct trees and the correct plants not only to reflect the history of the peninsula but also to start nourishing the restaurant,' he continues, referring to Stevie Parle’s adjoining restaurant, Craft London, which opened in April 2015.
In order to provide the garden with the proper attention that it needs, a gardener's hut has also been built so that a dedicated full-time gardener can tend to the plants year-round. In addition, market stools and seating will be positioned to form meeting points so visitors and residents can gather and relax; while an amphitheatre made up of jutting honeycomb plinths inspired by the geometry of the Giant’s Causeway will host a diverse calendar of events and a year-round programme for theatre, music, cinema and performance.
Now open to the public, just in time for the summer season, the Garden marks the start of a new greener chapter in the Peninsula's industrial history.