Marks Barfield Architect’s Gateway Pavilions are the first completed project in the ambitious vision for the Greenwich Peninsula
Defining the southern edge of Peninsular Square, the two curved glass pavilions are the gateway to the cable car and Central Park. Linked by a clear-span canopy, they were inspired by the idea of geomagnetic lodestones, which were used as early compasses in the historical great voyages of discovery – the maritime heritage for which Greenwich is famous and the canopy soffit imitates the ‘magnetic field’ pattern, referencing Greenwich’s link with navigation and the meridian.
The pavilions contain a contemporary art gallery, offices, a cafe, restaurant, sky bar, charcuterie and marketing facilities. A gently curved brass provides shelter for special artistic and community events as well as pop up markets. As visitors emerge from North Greenwich tube station and look to the right they will see the pavilions and also through them to the cable car along a line of latitude.
The project was won as the result of an invited completion in Spring 2013. The choice of materials is influenced by the peninsula’s robust and varied industrial heritage. Submarine cables, ships, iron, steel, linoleum, cement, bronze, copper and brass were all made on the Peninsula. Brass, copper and other metal combinations, in particular, have been incorporated where possible as well as steel and concrete.
Curved glass creates a rich interplay of transparency and reflective sparkle – depending on light conditions, location on the building and time of day. The glass specification responds to the environmental and functional requirements of its orientation and location. For example the interstitial solar control coating is predominantly in the southern facing glass with clearer glass to the north. The ground floor entrance areas of the cladding are specified to be very transparent to invite and welcome people in. The angle of the two principal facades both open onto and address Peninsula Square while also creating a dialogue between the building entrances under the canopy. Elsewhere the glass becomes highly reflective mirroring the surrounding landscape, sky and buildings and creating internal privacy.
Roof top levels of the pavilions are high enough to give visitors 360 degree views over North Greenwich Station towards Canary Wharf, the City of London, the Thames Estuary and beyond.