The Design District: an Uplifting Vision of Post-Covid London

First look at future permanent home for the capital’s creative industries

by Rossana Vinci
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Dedicated to London’s creative community, The Design District is a brave architectural vision for London’s creative future. The District is a permanent hub for makers and thinkers driving forward the fields of design, art, tech, food, fashion, craft and music.

Permanent workspace for the creative industry: open, naturally-ventilated space for ‘messy’ work in one of Architecture 00’s two buildings.

 

 

The Design District is a striking and eclectic addition to the city, occupying a one-hectare plot at the heart of Greenwich Peninsula, beside the O2 and NOW Gallery. Scheduled to open later this year (although construction has rightly been paused for the moment) it will provide workspace to 1,800 people in the creative industries – a permanent, affordable, home for the capital’s craft and innovation.

Charged with creating the masterplan, architect Hannah Corlett of HNNA has opted for the unexpected: 16 buildings designed by eight architects in a one-hectare plot, the only limitations being a strict budget and a commitment to affordability.

From left: Matt Dearlove, head of design at Design District and Greenwich Peninsula; Hannah Corlett, masterplanner and founding director of HNNA.

 

 

To achieve this, eight architects, including HNNA, have each taken on the design of two buildings, ensuring a range of architectural voices are expressed. Those voices belong to: 6a Architects, Adam Khan Architects, Architecture 00, Barozzi Veiga, David Kohn Architects, HNNA (previously Assemblage), Mole Architects, Selgascano Arquitectos.

 

Throughout 16 buildings will be versatile spaces, specialist workshops, studios, meeting rooms, pop-up sites, food and drink venues, destinations for leisure and cultural activity and even a rooftop multisports court – everything needed to nurture a vibrant creative community.

 

The eight architects were handpicked – there was no competition and no-one turned the invitation down – and asked to design a pair of buildings “blind” from each other, to ensure diversity in the district’s buildings. Through this process, each practice was given the freedom to design independently and individually, without the restrictions that a prescribed materials palette or the design codes usually associated with masterplans might impose.

Only eight minutes from London Bridge, and within viewing distance of the O2, the Design District offers world class workspaces and destinations for culture.

 

The result is set to be one of the most dynamic architectural sites, and sights, in London – a playful, deliberately eclectic mélange of forms and styles matched to the creativity that will be cultivated within it.

The urban developer behind the regeneration of Greenwich Peninsula, Knight Dragon, has set out to deliver a purpose-built creative neighbourhood that will exist in perpetuity – a dedicated district to preserve and stimulate the creative innovation and enterprise that has been integral to London’s global identity for centuries.

 

Although construction is currently paused in response to Covid-19* the Design District is aiming to complete the first few buildings to receive the first tenants later this year.

 

 

 

 

Comments
  • Nalin Savara

    Thank you for this wonderful write-up - it totally illuminates to me as someone passionate about design, the vision and ideas behind London's design district.

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