• 9 March 2020

Revolutionising the Royal Arsenal Riverside

With a rich history dating back to the 16th century, the Royal Arsenal Riverside has been given a new lease of life as one of the biggest regeneration projects in Europe.

Offering over 5,000 converted and new build residential units in addition to commercial, retail and leisure amenities, the scheme is transforming the south London site.

Stunning 88-acre riverside community

Berkeley Group’s exciting riverside address sits at the heart of Woolwich, which is rapidly emerging as one of London’s bright spots thanks to its prime riverfront locations and buzzing retail offering. With the forthcoming Crossrail station plus existing Thames Clipper Pier, National Rail and DLR stations, Royal Arsenal Riverside is also accredited as one of the best-connected schemes in south east London.

The Allies and Morrison Architects-led masterplan scheme has been underway for 15 years with nearly 3,000 units already reaching practical completion. The holistic landscape overhaul includes over 1 km of river walks, refurbished historic buildings, event spaces, formal gardens and a new four-acre linear ‘Maribor Park’ which creates a green link from Woolwich town centre to the river through the development.

Residents benefit from an exclusive five-star health and wellbeing centre and plans are also underway for a 16,500 m2 cultural creative district.

A significant history

The former ‘Woolwich Warren’ has altered significantly throughout its largely-military past. After the Board of Ordnance took ownership of the land in the 17th century, the site expanded to incorporate a munitions industry that carried out armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing, and explosives research for the British armed forces, scaling over 1,285 acres (520 ha) by the First World War. The site ceased manufacturing in 1967 and the Ministry of Defence moved out in 1994.

Woolwich Power Station was also once positioned directly adjacent to Woolwich Arsenal in 1893, occupying just over seven and a half acres of the site as it burned up to 1,000 tonnes of coal a day. Following the demolition of the Power Station in 1978, substantial in-ground obstructions and contamination were left behind, resulting in the latest riverside construction phase sitting directly above the polluted land. Designed by Simon Bowden and Bond Bryan architects, these comprise 764 residential apartments over six buildings up to 22 storeys high. With the westbound Crossrail running tunnel also positioned nearby, our team were required to work closely alongside foundation specialist Dawson Wam to develop a cost-effective solution involving a two-rig operation; the first to core through the obstructions and the second to install 900 mm diameter continuous flight augered piles to avoid the need for suspension fluid piles which would have been vulnerable to loss through the fractured chalk.

Working in collaboration with the client’s design team, EPR, we assisted in the creation of a further 562 apartments across three buildings to the east of the site, known as Waterfront I, II and III, all of which are now complete. Offering a selection of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units with access to their own private balconies and a landscaped roof.

The structural framing for all of the riverside development buildings allows a high level of flexibility for a variety of apartment configurations above basement parking without any major transfer structures being required.

Transforming the site

The team designed within the remit of building heights being restricted, as set out by London City Airport, whilst the ground floors were fixed by the Environment Agency’s flood levels with allowance for climate change. These constraints were overcome by minimising floor build-ups and roof parapet heights, allowing for an additional storey to be added to the taller residential towers.

We began our association with the scheme in 2009, initially undertaking the concept and detailed designs for the new Royal Arsenal Woolwich Crossrail station box. This will accommodate the highly-anticipated new Elizabeth Line which will run every five minutes at peak times, reducing journey times across Canary Wharf, Bond Street and Heathrow Airport.

In addition to the riverside buildings, Waterman have also been involved in the design of a number of other past, current and future phases across the site, including a modular hotel, refurbished gun carriage workshop and other planned apartment buildings.

Andrew Harrison, Director for Waterman Structures said; “We are proud of our longstanding involvement in this major development which is becoming a thriving new area of London. We look forward to working with Berkeley Group as this project continues to evolve.”

Royal Arsenal Riverside was crowned Gold Winner of the WhatHouse? ‘Best Regeneration Scheme’ Award in 2017.

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