Work on three railway arches on Ewer Street and Redcross Way will see them adapted to create new performance art, exercise and workspaces. The design for the scheme was created by local architectural practice and tenant, TDO, who were appointed to develop creative solutions that will be a benchmark for future schemes to bring empty arches back into use.
*Approved schemes by TDO: Playspace – Ewer Street (left) and Recross Way exterior (right)
It is just the latest phase in delivering the Low Line – a project inspired by local resident and former architect, David Stephens, who sketched out a walking route along the viaducts between London Bridge and Waterloo stations back in 2012. With the support of partners including local residents and community groups; Business Improvement Districts Better Bankside, Team London Bridge and Blue Bermondsey; Southwark Council, and The Arch Company, David’s initial idea is becoming a reality. The project was awarded £1 million from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund to diversify the types of businesses using the arches, connect local communities and contribute to a greener city.
The Low Line – a brief history
The Low Line is an ambitious project modelled on Manhattan’s High Line; the elevated park that runs through New York City on an abandoned railway route. The Low Line’s route celebrates the history and heritage of one of London’s oldest neighbourhoods and takes in:
- Borough Market – London’s oldest and most renowned food market celebrating traditional produce and regional specialities from around the world
- Scoresby Street – eight arches have been refurbished to provide places for leisure use, including a wine bar, coffee roastery and an escape room.
- Flat Iron Square – a lively piazza featuring street food, live music and a weekly vintage flea market
- Ewer Street – which dates back to the 1700s and is now home to gyms, an art gallery and several sustainable business start-ups
- Old Union Yard Arches – an enclosed courtyard that is home to an eclectic mix of food and drink venues, theatre and performance art spaces
As the owners of the railway arch spaces along the four-mile route, we’ve been working in partnership to progress the delivery of the Low Line. Shaun Mobsby, Asset Management Director, has been involved in the project from the start and said: “The Low Line project is playing an important role in activating spaces along its route, making them more accessible and reinvigorating the local area. We’re really pleased to be a partner in the delivery of the scheme. It’s a project that supports our wider investment in bringing hundreds of vacant railway arches back into use, which is creating new spaces for local businesses and other organisations. Our work aims to breathe new life into these spaces, showcasing how the unique arches can be adapted and reused to deliver flexible spaces supporting a broad mix of uses.”
Future phases of work
Over the next five years new sections of the Low Line will be created. These will include:
- A new route through the arches at Borough Market
- Opening up 70,000 sq ft of arches at London Bridge station to provide affordable spaces for local independent businesses and a new home for Southwark Playhouse
- Public realm improvements and bringing arches back into use at Holyrood Street
- A new leisure offering in arches adjacent to Maltby Street market
- Bringing arches adjacent to Bermondsey Biscuit Factory back into use
- Improvements to the walkway alongside the Borough Triangle development at Elephant and Castle
- A new north-south route as part of the Manor Place depot redevelopment
Map of the Low Line
Low Line Commons
In early 2020 the Low Line partners ran an international competition to redevelop the arches along the Low Line. Developed by PDP Architects, the winning concept will see new green infrastructure on and around the railway arches including community gardens, tree planting and wildlife habitats.
Some projects that bring the Low Line Commons to life, like the Warden’s Grove Garden, Metal Box Garden and Druid Street meadow have already been delivered in earlier stages of the Low Line. Low Line Commons builds on this work and offers guiding tools for local communities, including residents, businesses and landowners along the length of the route to deliver more green space and create a new linear park for the north of Southwark.
*PDP concept for America Street