The first phase of The Tide, London’s version of the High Line, officially opened to the public on Friday. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) in collaboration with London-based firm Neiheiser Argyros, the inaugural section of the linear park marks one-fifth of the overall three-mile-long landscape coming to the banks of the River Thames.
As an outdoor cultural destination set in the city’s burgeoning creative district, Greenwich Peninsula, The Tide features what Kerri Sibson, director of the local development office, calls a “bold 3D landscape” that’s perfect for enjoying nature and absorbing art. “The Tide brings to London an unrivaled outdoor experience in the city,” Sibson said in a statement. “Most importantly, it’s a place for everyone.”
When fully finished, the elevated and at-grade park will weave through and connect the seven different neighborhoods being constructed as part of the 150-acre Greenwich Peninsula district. This new urban enclave will boast architecture by Santiago Calatrava, C.F. Moeller, SOM, and SelgasCano, among others, and is currently being marketed as London’s emerging art and design community. The Tide is just one element that’s slated to attract future residents to the Peninsula over the next two decades as it is built. The mega-plan includes adding 15,000 new homes, nearly 4,000 affordable housing units, 13,000 new jobs, two new schools, and 48 acres of public green space to the formerly industrial zone—a move prompted by the area’s recent regeneration sparked by enhanced transit connections to downtown London.
Though this level of development is substantially larger than what DS+R’s High Line has inspired in New York’s Chelsea, The Tide is actually a project that’s been envisioned ahead of future growth in the district, and of course, it’s being done from scratch. Unlike DS+R’s seminal urban park project, the British iteration will be built in tandem with the buildings that will rise above and around it, while still making nature, art, and city views the focal point of the landscape. And it won’t necessarily be a tourist destination either, according to the architects, who have envisioned it as a source of respite for locals with ample programming for meditation, running, and waking.
The first section of The Tide features curvaceous walkways that mirror the ebb and flow of the river, as well as terraces, and overlooks, all which are supported by 28 angular steel stems. Some parts of the park’s initial viewpoints feature support structures as tall as 29 feet high. The paths themselves also stand out with a striped pattern that doubles as a wayfinding tool, guiding visitors from one section to the next. Giant sculptures by Damien Hirst and Allen Jones already populate the introductory segment
The Tide’s above-ground routes act as canopies covering the plazas below, which DS+R used asphalt and granite Portuguese paving stones to surface. Edinburgh-based landscape studio GROSS.MAX designed a textured vision for the park’s many elevated and sunken gardens, of which phase one includes native birch and pine, waterside trees, seasonable bulbs, ornamental grasses, and sections of groundcover.
All of the open spaces above, below, and within the park, including the jetty garden and a picnic area that boasts an 88-foot-long communal table, were intended to invite incoming locals to experience the city from the waterfront and create community through it. These activation areas make up a network for recreation, culture, and wellness. Benjamin Gilmartin, partner-in-charge of the project at DS+R, said The Tide aims to “embed a new public realm into the daily rhythms of Greenwich Peninsula” as it grows.
“Diverse programming along the way will act as islands that welcome the surges of commuters, visitors, cyclists, and runners,” Gilmartin said in a statement, “while also providing intimate places for pause contemplation, conversation, and people watching.”