The Landscape Guide

Thames Barrier Visitor Centre Park

The Thames Barrier at Woolwich protects London from Flooding. It was largely funded by the Ministory of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and, unusually for a flood relief project, significant financial expenditure was used to create a visual landmark. This was successful and the barrier has become a much-appreciated feature of London's river landscape. Tourist boats bring visitors from Greenwich and Westminster piers. Regrettably, this enlightened attitude did not extend to the park. As usual, it was thought that a grassy bank, a cafe and children's playground would suffice.

A better plan would have been to commission a Flood Landscape with a character that changed at every level of the tide. The plan shapes could be inspired by the swirling river currents; there could be sensuous mud banks, like bronzed limbs, at the lowest level; golden sands could ripple at a mid-level, for sun-bathers; then reed beds (as at Greenwich); then a compliment to Burle Marx's Copacabana waterfront, just above the mean flood level; then the whole park should disappear when a storm surge comes in from the North Sea and the barrier is raised to defend London. A viewing terrace and a webcam should be installed to witness this natural spectacle.

See also: comment on the Thames Barrier Park on the north bank.

HOMEPAGE - Landscape Architecture London List

Grass bank by the Thames Barrier - with no visitors at 3.30pm on 24th June 2006. Its a boring place.

Copacabana waterfront, by Burle Marx

Mud banks, by the River Thames

Reeds by the river