One South Quay
35-storeys, South Quay
Quay House — sometimes known as One South Quay — is a future waterfront development, located immediately south of the Canary Wharf estate overlooking South Dock.
Previously rejected in 2014, new planning permission for the site obtained in 2020, with minor amendments currently sought before construction begins. Plans are for a 35-storey tower with a triple-height podium at ground level. The Quay House development will be a residential and hotel combination, bringing another new hotel to E14 and promising to significantly improve the local area.
This article will look at the approved plans, what’s changed, and how the Quay House development looks set to continue to shape this part of the Isle of dogs.
Quay House — Location and site overview
The One South Quay site is located immediately east of the DLR crossing over South Dock bridge. It has excellent accessibility with three DLR stations: Canary Wharf, South Quay, and Heron’s Quay, all under 8 minutes walk. In addition, Quay House is very well-placed for accessing the Jubilee line, and eventual Crossrail lines via Canary Wharf.
The site currently houses disused office buildings, and was singled out by the architects of neighbouring development South Quay Plaza as being part of a “built up and hostile area”.
One South Quay — Address
Quay House, Admirals Way, London, E14 3AG
Like neighbouring Wardian London — noted by its architects as having a particularly difficult plot — One South Quay’s 0.2 hectares site also has numerous challenges.
Borders South Dock
Numerous 3-6 storey commercial buildings
Admirals Way access road
Wardian London west tower (55-storeys)
Aside from the boarders, the elevated DLR railway dissects the site from north to south along the western edge.
As a result, the building is rotated slightly to sit into the curve of the DLR tracks that cut across the southwestern corners of the plot.
The DLR tracks also shaped the buildings theme, with the architects stating
The conceptual strategy for the base of the building in the approved scheme was to make the solid form of the tower appear to float above the ground responding to the context of the DLR tracks which cuts a strong horizontal through the built formOne South Quay — Simpson Haugh
Changing plans for One South Quay — A shrinking tower
Plan 1 — 233 M
Rejected in 2014, this original plan for the site by Kohn Pederson Fox stood at a huge 233 meters, making it one of the tallest planned buildings in Canary Wharf.
The 68-storey residential only tower would bring nearly 500 new luxury homes to the area.
It was rejected by Tower Hamlets Council on the grounds that the development is particularly dense, and wouldn’t contribute to the needs of the local area sufficiently.
Plan 2 — 139 M
The second iteration for One Quay House was approved on the 23rd of January 2020.
This is for a 40-storey tower standing at 139.2 meters. This design switched from a purely residential development into largely hospitality-based, with a large hotel and serviced apartments.
Originally planned to be two towers, the architects Simpson Haugh eventually settled on one tower, with separate lifts and access points to divide the two uses internally.
Plan 3 — 120 M
The final amendment to the Quay House’s Canary Wharf tower arrived in December 2020.
This amendment kept the same design and styling as the approved 2020 application, with a reduced height and slightly wider base.
As a result, the final tower is expected to be 120.9 m and 35-storeys. Roughly half the height of the 2014 proposals, this final update is under planning and expected to be approved in March 2021.
Design and construction
Developers Rockwell and Firethorn Trust are undertaking the project in a joint development, hiring architects Simpson Haugh for the design of this tower.
The 28,000 square foot development aims to bring a publicly accessible restaurant and bar, hotel and serviced apartments to the site.
The bulk of the Quay House development plans (roughly 16,000 square meters) are taken up by a 400-bedroom hotel.
An additional 12,000 square meters house 279 serviced apartments. While the building has been shrunk by 5 floors in the latest amendments, widening the base of the building by 1.5 meters has kept the overall area similar. This has enabled 1 additional hotel room on each floor, meaning that the number of units hasn’t changed.
The interior layout of the building is subdivided into a northern side — looking towards South Dock, and a south side facing towards Millharbour Village.
This subdivision separates the hotel and serviced apartments, which are both located between floors 4–34. They also have separate lifts, with the larger hotel having 5 dedicated lifts, and the serviced apartments 3 dedicated lifts.
North side hotel
- 1 quad rooms
- 62 triple rooms
- 61 double rooms
- 56 double + rooms
- 40 accessible rooms
South side serviced apartments
- 211 studio apartments
- 54 one-bedroom apartments
- 14 accessible apartments
Unlike many of the sharp glass and steel combination towers in the surrounding area, Quay House has curved edges and a green hued concrete cladding. Simpson Haugh describe their inspiration for the bowed and curving design as a pebble in the Thames.
Currently, the Quay House site is occupied by an unused three-storey office building and car park, that requires demolition before groundwork can begin.
The original proposed timeline involved demolition works starting in the first quarter of 2020 and 3 years until completion.
With the revised schedules submitted in the latest planning applications, there is a 12-month delay to this process. With minor additional delays in this schedule due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions it is likely that demolition will begin in the first half of 2021, with construction topping out at the end of 2022.
Cladding and final hotel fitting of the building are scheduled throughout 2023, with completion of One South Quay set for the first half of 2024.
Quay House Canary Wharf — 4 Key features
1. Noise avoidance
Noise assessments form a standard part of all new developments, and it was no surprise to see that at Quay House the noise — especially for the western side facing the DLR — would be a large issue.
This has shaped the design of Quay House — and architects Simpson Haugh — have addressed the issue in 3 ways.
- The overall building cladding. This is described as insulated ultra-high performance concrete cladding (UPHC), with a pebble dash pattern. And is a relatively new building material with high noise insulation.
- Large sets of ripples are cast into the cladding, and these are not just for show. They have been shown to improve the noise by breaking up sound waves from the DLR tracks, helping to disperse the noise more effectively.
- All windows within the building will be double-glazed, however the windows on lower levels on the western side will have an additional internal glazing, effectively making them triple glazed. They will also have acoustically absorbent materially, to reduce the noise level to that needed for the hotel’s specification.
2. New restaurant and terrace overlooking South Dock
On the second floor of One South Quay is a circa 600 square meter restaurant, located towards the southern end of the building.
As well as access from the hotel lobby, the restaurant will have dedicated steps, and elevator access from the dockside, and be publicly accessible.
At the northern end of this second floor, an open air terrace provides views across South Dock. This second storey will have a green wall covering the exterior, in an effort to improve air quality and the local environment.
3. New public space and DLR track underline
We will deliver significant improvements to the public realm, enhancing the pedestrian experience along South Quay and introducing an ‘underline’ to the currently underused spaces beneath the DLR.Rockwell Properties — Quay House
Pre-application, the developers of Quay House were engaging with the local community to try and maximise the under-utilised space beneath the DLR tracks.
In addition they wanted to open up the site for better access to the water.
By removing the 33 space car park — this is a dedicated car-free development with only 2 spaces remaining — and making better use of the space underneath the tracks there should be a significant new public space. In total, the development will provide just over 1.2 square kilometres of public realm.
The underline is a term that the developers have used to label the underneath of the elevated DLR tracks. The aim is that this site will form part of a larger plan for redevelopment of the area under the snaking DLR line, providing a covered walkway for residents of the Isle of Dogs and making better use of the wasted space.
The result of community engagement has been an unlikely partnership with Parkour Generations London, a local parkour gym group based further along the Thames in E14 at Trinity Buoy Wharf. This has shaped plans to turn the existing space below the DLR tracks into an outdoor gym and parkour area.
The applicants have identified the ‘underline’ as an opportunity to provide a unique and engaging public realm improvement to encourage activity in accordance with the recently adopted Local Plan through the addition of a Parkour training zone and new hard and soft landscaping.Quay House planning review — Tower Hamlets
Hospitality and local jobs
One of the largest changes in the Quay House site has been a pivot away from residential development towards hospitality. Tower Hamlets borough have a target of providing an additional 5,000 rooms for visitor accommodation by 2040, and the One South Quay development helps them meet this target, and expands on the hotel offering in Canary Wharf.
In addition, Tower Hamlets were keen to ensure that new development replaces some existing jobs on the site — something that wouldn’t be achieved with another residential only development.
As a result, a key feature of getting this application passed was a demonstration of the number of jobs provided by this redevelopment. Feasibility studies indicate that the hotel at Quay House will generate 230 full-time equivalent jobs.
Quay House will generate significant employment opportunities for local people, generating up to 230 full-time equivalent jobs in the new hotel and serviced apartments, in addition to 300 jobs during construction.
Summary of Quay House Canary Wharf
The development of Quay House looks to be a great way to continue to open up access to the waterfront at South Dock, and providing significantly better use of the space for residents of the Isle of Dogs.
Quay House’s planned green-tinged concrete cladding, is an interesting design that will divide public opinion. With its soft edges and Simpson Haugh’s desire to imagine the building as a pebble from the Thames, the unusual shape certainly stands out from the sharper edged buildings of the Canary Wharf estate and neighbouring Wardian London.
While not quite as impressive as the 68-storey residential block originally proposed, the Canary Wharf area has a wealth of towering residential developments underway, and a need for hospitality alongside bringing local jobs to the area is a welcome benefit of the new plans for One South Quay.
In combination with neighbouring Wardian London, South Quay Plaza and the new footbridge crossing planned, this southern side of South Dock is developing rapidly. Overall the building should continue the redevelopment of the waterfront, and provide a marked improvement on the disused buildings and car park it replaces.