Savoy Pier

Passive House reception and berthing pontoons on the Victoria Embankment, granted planning permission in October 2012

This project, first commissioned in 1998 by the Woods Silver Fleet, forms part of a Scheduled Monument on the Victoria Embankment between Cleopatra’s Needle and Waterloo Bridge. It was designed to be sympathetic to the surrounding historic fabric as well as to the river environment. The Passive House waiting room, reception, bar and ancillary staff accommodation was designed as a floating structure, to fit discreetly under a single roof in a historic recess of the Scheduled Monument, with floating ramps up to the Victoria Embankment. The low, cantilevered roof was designed to provide a natural brackish riverbank ecology.

English Heritage supported the proposals, describing the design as ‘streamlined and elegant’. The materials palette consists of natural and durable materials that are finely-detailed. The structure is set out along an orderly grid of imposing, rectangular, laminated timber columns. Charred timber cladding was chosen for its quiet appearance and longevity. The interiors were designed with textured and waxed timber for visual warmth, and rugged clay brick paviors were selected for the ultimate in slip-resistance and durability.

The 150m long berthing pontoon is very prominently located beside Waterloo Bridge, extending in front of Cleopatra’s Needle. It was granted planning consent on condition of extremely high-quality detailing comparable with our public space projects for the City of London, which are also located on or next to some of London’s finest Historic Monuments. We worked closely with the Environment Agency and we insisted from the start that no effluent will be allowed to be discharged into the Thames from the pier or boats, a practice which was allowed until 2015. Our involvement with the project ceased when the client decided to build the project under a design and build contract.

The completed project won an RIBA award in 2022.

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