The South Bank area of London, flanked by the London Bridge and Waterloo Station transport hubs, has a particular and unique mixture of cultural, commercial and residential spaces. Situated between the UK’s busiest railway station and Europe’s largest cultural quarter at the South Bank including the Royal Festival Hall, Hayward Gallery, British Film Institute, and the National Theatre. Elizabeth House will be the first major commercial development in Waterloo and Lambeth’s biggest office investment in 40 years.
The Elizabeth House project will create over 8,500 jobs in Lambeth and provide modern office floor plates to attract major occupiers back to Waterloo, contributing £60 million into the local economy each year.
The design proposal represents the integration of three concepts – fitting into the townscape of the South Bank; a new face for Waterloo station; and a series of public realm spaces that reconnect previously disparate areas at the heart of Waterloo. It takes the form of two new buildings, separated by a large public square which forms part of 10,000 square meters (108,000 square feet) of new public realm running the length of the site.
The integrated proposal highlights the strategic location and resolves the specific complexities and contradictions of the site. The proximity to Waterloo Station, and the demands that come with it, create an opportunity to establish a new ‘Town Square’ that also serves as a public transport interchange space; to improve permeability to and within the area and provide space for new development.
A new urban quarter and forecourt to Waterloo Station avoids the commercial conflict of internal floor space and corresponding external public realm, and creates a raised building form to generate an active and highly permeable streetscape. The ground floor spaces are freed to be shaped by their proximity to the Station occupied by cultural activities from the neighboring arts centres.