Sienna House at Royal Wharf
Sienna House is part of the Royal Wharf development near the Thames Barrier in East London. The block positioned on the north bank of the River Thames includes 120 apartments over 11 storeys. Serie Architects won an invited competition to design the facade of Sienna House working alongside masterplanners Glenn Howells Architects.
In order to break down the scale of the block’s 11 storeys the design uses a ‘giant order’. This arrangement – commonly used in the grander schemes of nineteenth century London terrace housing – groups together adjacent floors using attached columns or pilasters. The effect is to make the building appear to have fewer levels that it actually has.
Several elements are combined to create this effect. The most important is the use of balconies that stretch up to three storeys high. The visual impact of the stretched balcony is reinforced by switching the balcony position for each band. This switch is carried through to the plan of the relevant apartments. Balconies are also oriented to the south to maximise views of the Thames. Alongside the three-storey balconies the facade has long strips of wavy-surfaced terracotta. This terracotta references the idea of curtains in a window – again reinforcing the illusion. Finally, each triple-height band is defined by a continuous stone band or stringer course running above and below.
Together the effect of these various elements is to make an 11 storey block appear more like a five storey block; or at least to make this suggestion to the eye. Moreover, the grand order facade treatment gives the block some of the elegance associated with the finest of Nash’s early nineteenth terrace blocks around Regents Park. In that sense the building is intended to look like it is part of a long tradition of housing in London.
- Use:Residential tower
- Client:Oxley Holdings / Ballymore Group
- Status:Competition first place, May 2014
- Design Team:Chris Lee, Bolam Lee, Martin Jameson, Simon Whittle, Edouard Champalle