Architecture, London buildings, New towers 2018, Vauxhall Cross Island, Zaha Hadid Architects, ZHA

ZHA reveals designs for two tall towers in London sparking public discontent

Zaha Hadid Architects has revealed designs for a pair of skyscrapers for London’s Vauxhall Cross, an island site adjacent to Vauxhall Station.

The designs are in response to VCI Property Holding Limited’s 2013 proposal for the Vauxhall Cross Island site to provide a hotel and office-led scheme, alongside new residential and retail uses and improvements to the public realm. The project comes in part of Lamberth Council’s aspirations to regenerate the island site.

Images courtesy ZHA

According to the architects, the towers will generate approximately 2,000 new jobs in the borough across the hospitality, retail, building management and office-based sectors.

The scheme comprises two tall buildings with a low-level podium building that creates a defined public square. It will house a 500-room hotel, 260 residential units, 220,000ft2 of office accommodation, and 7,000ft2 of retail and leisure space.

The architects said the mixed-use towers support the council’s objective to create and prioritise employment-generation in Vauxhall’s district centre.

ZHA’s proposal also includes a new public square and coordinates with the Transport of London (TfL) gyratory and bus station scheme to accommodate new street-level pedestrian crossings and wider pavements, providing improved pedestrian environment and experience, the architects added.

The architects wrote in a press release that the new square “creates a generous public space next to the primary pedestrian route from Vauxhall Station to the south and adjacent to TfL’s new bus stops located on Bondway, giving an opportunity for the square to host a programme of popular community events and activities throughout the year, from markets to street entertainment and performances.”

They continue: “We want to work with the community to identify how the square can be used to provide the greatest benefit to Vauxhall and what types of activities or events can be held here.” 

According to Dezeen, permission had previously been granted on appeal to Squire & Partners in 2012, when it re-submitted plans to build towers 41 and 31 storeys high. The local council had refused the original 46 and 23 storey scheme.

However, ZHA’s towers are 53 and 42 storeys, with the Architects’ Journal reporting that local campaigners have accused the architects of “attempting to add more height by stealth”.

ZHA said that the scheme “works with the height of the other proposed developments in the area” and that it will “sit better within the context of the emerging Vauxhall cluster” than the previous design.

Dezeen reported that along with fears that the two skyscrapers will overshadow the area, their footprint obtrude the bus stop, which was designed by Arup Associates, costing £4.5 million to build, and currently serves as a local landmark.

While Lambeth Council has approved plans to demolish the bus station and replace it with facilities pavilions and separate shelters for the bus stops, TfL will undertake a “land swap” with  VCI Property Holding Limited, giving over a section of the land where the bus stop currently stands to developers in return for space to put the improved gyratory road system.

Dezeen added that the plan has been controversial, with local residents and campaign groups angered by the council and TfL reconfiguring public facilities to accommodate a private project.

ZHA has maintained that its proposal for the Vauxhall Cross Island site fulfills the brief and furthermore, will help regenerate the area.