London is not a new city. Sure, it’s at the forefront of finance, tech and upsetting the European Union, but its neighbourhoods and boroughs are ancient. They may get redeveloped from time to time, but even gentrification just makes the old relevant once again. In fact, there’s only one part of London that you could really consider new – and incredibly new at that – Greenwich Peninsula.
Despite being home to the O2, one of the most important music venues in the world, Greenwich Peninsula has otherwise not been considered the most appealing of areas. The reasons are beyond me; not only is it surrounded by the Thames, but also it has flawless transport links into London and is a stone’s throw from the banking hub of Canary Wharf. It has all the raw ingredients to become one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in the capital – and Upper Riverside is just the start.
Upper Riverside is hugely ambitious, the first wave in creating not just a few new apartment blocks but building a new neighbourhood from the ground up. Three of the five towers have so far been built, with the rest well on their way, all along the loop of the Thames.
The idea is to create a fully functioning community ecosystem within the bounds of the peninsula. To that end, each Upper Riverside tower will be separated by manicured, landscaped grounds and public areas for residents. Furthermore, each of the buildings will have its own unique facilities, encouraging residents to move from one to the other.
For Building 2, the unique facility is the stunning Renew, an entire floor of wellness and relaxation. It has one of London’s highest swimming pools, along with views across the city from the gym areas that are a damn sight better than the usual MTV re-runs. Other towers have games rooms, cinemas, lounges, all of which are shared by the area’s residents.
The variations don’t just stop at the facilities. Each building has an entirely different designer, with an entirely different eye. For example, I was fortunate enough to spend a night in Building 2, created by Tom Dixon with all his signature flair; think plenty of circular lights and glossy finishes like a contemporary hotel lobby. At the other end of the creative spectrum is Sophie Ashby’s Building 3, somewhere between townhouse and country home, less glamorous but more homely.
That design flair is, of course, evident in the architecture too, thanks to Skidmore Owings & Merrill, the name behind the Burj Khalifa and One World Trade Centre. You can see the firm’s influence in the cascading terraces, the contemporary geometric fronts and general coolness of the towers. It might just be across the water but Canary Wharf this is not.
Inside, the apartments range from studios perfect for a young professional all the way up to three-bedroom penthouses. They all make exceptional use of space and, depending on which side of the tower you’re on, have waterside views or overlook the iconic white dome of the O2. Personally, I prefer the river.
There’s still a long way to go in the whole Greenwich Peninsula project; there will be a hub devoted to the creative industries, restaurants and bars, places to work and play – everything a neighbourhood needs. Just newer. If the towers of the Upper Riverside are anything to go by however, it’s going to be an exciting time for the area. You might want to get in early.
The first batch of Penthouses has already sold out. Three-bedroom apartments from £1.75m. Make an enquiry at upperriverside.co.uk.