Sea Containers House (Planning)
London Borough of Southwark
28,000sqm office building and 358 bed hotel
This former office building and familiar river landmark on London’s South Bank was originally built – but never used – as a hotel. More than three decades later, tp bennett was asked to turn part of it into its originally-intended use as a 358-room hotel, including riverside bars and restaurants with offices on other floors. A new-build office complex was to be a constituent part, to maintain the level of office employment for the site – a requirement of planning.
Lengthy pre-application discussions with the London Borough of Southwark covered matters of principle from urban realm improvements to the impact of transport – important with a hotel – as well as the protection of views at this landmark site.
To activate the riverside walk and road adjacent to the hotel, the practice addressed the building’s permeability from back to front and addressed its need for transport access. With two more storeys at the top of Sea Containers House it had to prove that views would be protected, and that new feature lighting on the river elevation would not be disruptive, which it showed with a comprehensive series of townscape impact appraisals. The hotel was opened in 2014, and the remainder of the original building fitted out for occupation as an HQ office in 2016, the new-build office element becoming a flexible co-working space run by WeWork South Bank.