The new Blackfriars Pier replaces the previous pier that was moved to make way for the Thames Tideway Tunnel construction. Built to the east of Blackfriars Bridge, the pier faces south towards Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge, and commands impressive views of the river. An enlarged berthing space, better amenities and accessibility to the pier from the bridge, were incorporated within the design to fit into its prominent position.
We designed the pier, access structures and landscaping to be sensitive to its surroundings. The brief identified the need for a simple and elegant solution to avoid competing for attention with its larger iconic neighbours.
Our integrated architecture and engineering team took into consideration all of the technical requirements of the brief including passenger access and circulation, customer experience, marine environment and location, without compromising on the elegance of the design.
84 metres in length
A flexible, robust design
The pier is vulnerable to the impact of passing ships, so our maritime team incorporated technology typically used on offshore wind turbines. This avoided the need for time consuming welds in the tidal zone which would have been very difficult to construct. The pier also includes a dredged pocket with a submerged retaining wall to accommodate tidal movements. Our analysis demonstrated that the design would not compromise the stability of the existing river wall and flood defences, which was a key driver for third party approvals.
Constructing against the tides
With an average 6.5m tide change twice a day, minimising work on site was a priority. The pier was designed so that 90% of the pontoon and canting brow – including the installation of details such as balustrading - were constructed offsite in Holland and shipped to London. Modular construction kept the costs within budget and life-cycle costs were considered throughout the design.
The pier complements its surroundings
The design was kept intentionally open to permit unrestricted views across the river. A thin horizontal canopy runs parallel to the heavier horizontal base structure, which resolved the potentially conflicting demands of fitting into its environment. Wayfinding and signage was minimised and considered as a whole with the architectural design of the project.
The pier’s exposure to the elements and day-to-day wear of embarking ferries and tidal changes meant that robust materials were required. Stainless steel was selected due to its anti-corrosive nature, durability and low maintenance requirements in an exposed environment.