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Design commission picks apart Thames River Park proposal

Design advisory body Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) has listed “significant issues” that need to be addressed before planning permission is granted to the proposed Thames River Park floating structure.

Cabe said it supports the concept of a temporary park floating on the Thames, but found a number of faults with the proposals. It suggested the project should be called a “river grandstand”, in place of the more misleading “park” title. It suggested the project’s design team look to the New York High Line — a park built on a former elevated railway structure in Manhattan — for inspiration.

Cabe said it had concerns over the appearance of the Thames River Park, and criticised its “concrete seating, steel and glass pavilions, large deciduous trees in containers and substantial planters”. “The piles appear to be very prominent and we think they interfere with the integrity of the structure, especially at low tide. Whist we appreciate there is a substantial tidal difference on the river; we question whether they need to be as tall as indicated,” said Cabe in its response to the project’s application for temporary planning permission.

It also advised the local planning authority to consider the danger of vessels hitting the structure, a subject that was raised in local government last month. Cabe said pavilions on the proposed structure are too tall and prominent, and suggested that they be designed as canoies rather than the current “pods”, which it said were “unimaginative and corporate in appearance”. Cabe made further warnings on crowd control. “Infrastructure will be necessary on the existing riverside walkway to accommodate the significant number of people that are likely to visit,” it said.

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