Pool of London

London, UK

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Winning team: Spoon of London
Team members: Venus Choi, Julia Evans Asano, Enhsin Hsiao, Johanna Katharina vita Meier, Stephanie Pan, Petar Popara, Caitlin Smith & Aina Sorribas - London School of Economics & University College London

The winning project strategically and creatively maximised public space in the Pool of London, with a profound understanding of the problems facing the area. The proposed design interventions include: 

  • Repurposing Custom House into a Green Lab, and enabling historic buildings to use renewable energy.
  • Improving site connectivity by widening pedestrian space on Lower Thames Street, creating a new bike path and crosswalk. 
  • Cultivating a pollinator-friendly garden, creating environmental education programs and installing permeable surfaces throughout the site. 
  • Attract people to the area by installing narrative tiles bridging past and present and creating a reflective pool.

Runner Up | Greener London Alliance
  • Team members:  Neel Evan Le Meur, Tia Richards, Yixi Chen, Stepan Adamenko, Yuyi (Callie) Hou, Leyan Sheng, Juanhao Huang, Bhawika Jain, Wen Sui Nicole Ng, Andrew Drury, Kanika Jain, Georgy Merabishvili & Nadia Ousy | University College London
  • Faculty Advisor: Prof. Elisabete Cidre | University College London

Honourable Mention | R&I
  • Team members: Yuxin Han, Jingyi Wang, Aiwei Shi, Dan He, Xinci Lin, Bin Dai & Gustavo Kenji Ogassawara | University College London
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr Paula Morais | University College London

Honourable Mention | MRKT 
  • Team members: Yung Kin Choi, Nadim Bin Nazri, Alastair Ang, Yi Zhen Chuah, Rebecca Jia Qi Koh & Ziru Huang

The Pool of London provides a visual gateway to the City of London from the Thames and is the historic port of London. Several key existing buildings are likely to become vacant in the short term and this provides an opportunity to enhance and renew the area to provide a high-quality environment for businesses, visitors and residents.

The site has one of the most diverse backdrops of any site in the UK. For example, the heritage of the Tower of London and many other historic buildings, as well as a square mile backdrop full of landmark skyscrapers and the highest land values anywhere in Western Europe. Today, despite its central location and proximity to major tourist attractions (e.g. the Tower of London World Heritage Site) the space is underused. 

Lower Thames Street plays a key role in isolating the area from the rest of the City, and there are no tube or train stations within the area. Still, there is well-served public transport just outside the area, such as London Bridge Station, Tower Hill and Monument Underground Stations, Tower Gateway DLR Station and the bus route along Eastcheap. River passenger services operate from Tower Pier. 

Given its huge commercial & recreational potential, the area has been defined as a ‘Key Areas of Change’ in London’s City Plan for 2036. The real challenge is how can this area be used, to add value to London without detracting from its many assets.

Approx. site area:

3 Ha.

Key Information:

The area is commercial in character, with some residential and hotel use, and small-scale retail adjacent to the Tower of London.

Priority areas & main expectations:

  • Develop new & innovative cultural uses for the site, whilst continuing to encourage office-led commercial development in the area.
  •  Activate ground floors to provide publicly accessible retail, cultural and leisure uses
  • Improve pedestrian access to the area via existing crossing points, and create new ones.
  • Where possible, historic routes between the river and other areas of the City will be reinstated through the redevelopment and refurbishment of buildings. 
  • Boost public access to historic interiors.
  • Boost open public space, including publicly accessible roof terraces & open spaces.
  • Develop the riverside walk and routes to and along Lower Thames Street.

London-specific competition info 

The Students Reinventing Cities competition in London will run on a slightly different timeline than in other cities. See the key dates below:

  • Tuesday 9th January 2024 | Deadline to register your team
  • Thursday 15 February 2024 | Deadline to submit your project
  • Mid-March 2024 | Announcement of winners & celebration event

The competition is open to local, national and international students. As such, there will be two winners. This may be the same team in case the winning team is London-based. Winners based in London will have the opportunity to attend an awards event at City Hall in London, where the Mayor (or deputy Mayor) will present the prizes.

The GLA and C40 are delighted to have been supported by Gensler in the competition in London. Gensler has provided technical expertise and guidance for registered teams in a dedicated workshop at their London Office and is also represented in the jury. 

The jury that assessed all projects included:
  • Ian Mulcahey - Cities & Urban Design Leader, Principal | Gensler
  • Diana Lee, Studio Director, Principal | Gensler
  • Lisa Fairmaner – Head of London Plan and Growth Strategies, Planning and Regeneration |  Greater London Authority
  • Susannah Cox – Senior Project Officer, Regeneration & Economic Development | Greater London Authority
  • Mehrnaz Ghojeh, Head of City Finance Facility | C40 Cities 

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lower thames st
London England