Thames Tideway\

Reconnecting with London’s largest open space

Tideway is a major investment in London’s wastewater infrastructure for the 21st century; offering an exciting opportunity to enhance the appearance, identity and experience of one of the world's greatest cities through the creation of a series of new public spaces along the Thames.

Tideway follows a great tradition in Britain for treating major infrastructure works as a positive challenge to not only meet operational needs but also improve the quality and accessibility of civic, public space. It will also improve the water quality of the River Thames and London’s resilience to population growth, flood risk andprovide new public spaces, many of which are situated on the river foreshore above the new civil engineering works.

The big idea

As part of a multidisciplinary design team, we are leading the architecture and landscape designs for the eight sites in the central section, all of which are located in prominent central London locations spanning five boroughs from Falconbrook Pumping Station in the west to Blackfriars Bridge in the east. Design proposals include the delivery of new landscapes on top of complex civil engineering structures in the Thames. These spaces will introduce a necklace of vibrant destinations along the river and offer a whole new experience of the water’s edge and entirely new views to and from the foreshore.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-imagine central London's largest open space and enhance the relationship between the city and the River Thames.”

Harbinder Birdi Partner, Hawkins\Brown

As part of our design process we have developed a carefully considered design framework that looks at the wider river context with consideration of unique local characteristics. This analysis has generated a greater understanding of the local communities and current river edge conditions within the context of a growing London while embracing a strategic urban vision along the river for greater connectivity and public realm that is rich in identity.

Art, heritage and landscape

Blackfriars Bridge is the largest site we are working on for Tideway, at more than 200 metres long. A new public space is being created for workers, tourists and passers-by to enjoy. The 'Fleet Path' design pays homage to the lost Fleet River, which originates on Hampstead Heath and flows down through the city before joining the Thames beneath Blackfriars Bridge.

The landscaping is inspired by the lost river, while black stage sculptures by the artist Nathan Coley provide centres of gravity intended to engage and direct people across 4,000 sq m of new public realm.

Early conceptual sketches for Blackfriars Bridge sculptures by the artist Nathan Coley

Aerial view of the proposed public realm at Blackfriars Bridge

At Albert Embankment, the design respects and enhances the sensitive riverside setting to create a new public space on the foreshore. The site, in front of the infamous MI6 building at Vauxhall Cross, plays on its identity as a well-loved urban beach. The northern foreshore extends the Embankment and takes inspiration from the urban beach setting. This circular platform, which is framed with intertidal terraced planting on the southern foreshore, allows people to move further out on to the river.

At Chelsea Embankment, our design responds to the restorative character of the local area, which is home to the Royal Hospital and one of the greenest areas of the city. The organic design uses clay bricks and intertidal planting, and features a floodable walkway that steps down, allowing people to get even closer to the river.

Visualisations of the peaceful new space on Chelsea Embankment at high and low tide

By creating these distinct yet interconnected sites along the Thames, Tideway's goal is to put the river back at the heart of the city, and bring people back to the river.

  • Project Details
  • Stakeholders
  • Working with Artists

Project Summary

Project Team

Main Contractor (Central Section): Ferrovial, Laing O'Rourke
Lead Designer:AECOM
Architect and Landscape Lead: Hawkins\Brown
Landscape Architect: Gillespies
Lighting Designer: Studio Dekka


  • World Architecture Festival Awards 2018 - Infrastructure - Future Project - Highly commended


The project has been granted a Development Consent Order (DCO) and has a highly complex stakeholder environment. We are consulting with the Port of London Authority, Environment Agency, Transport for London, Marine Management Organisation, Historic England, Thames Water, RBKC, LB Wandsworth, City of Westminster, LB Lambeth and City of London, and other key stakeholders with local interest including Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Working with Artists

We will collaborate with artists at each site to integrate a diverse range of artworks into the architecture and landscape, offering the opportunity to creatively respond to Bazalgette’s pioneering sewer system as part of a project-wide heritage interpretation strategy.

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