Visitors to Riverlight, a new housing development on the south bank of the Thames, are confronted by a rather extraordinary, large artwork in the lobby. It layers towering elm trees, cranes from the docks, industrial waste and six, serrated glass towers lining the river bank. “History in the Making” by Royal College of Art student Frank Robeson, explores how his father, who suffers from Alzheimers, blurs time and space, but it’s also an effective way to process this new area of London.
Nine Elms, an area in Battersea surrounding the historic power station, is four times the size of Canary Wharf’s financial district, and its transformation – along with Elephant & Castle’s – will be the final piece in central London’s regeneration jigsaw. A revamp largely driven by private enterprise, Nine Elms will comprise 18,000 new homes, several schools, a nine-acre park and up to 25,000 new jobs. Estate agent Knight Frank predicts house price values will rise by 140 per cent to around £2,250psqft by 2016 in this little-known part of south west London. Indeed, in the three and a half years since the apartments went on sale, average price per square foot has increased from £800 to £1,500.
Two weeks ago, the first new homeowners and tenants moved into Riverlight, the first building to be completed on the site, only five years after developer St James bought it. Comprising 813 new apartments spread across six jagged, glass towers of diminishing size, the development is certainly attracting the gaze of passersby, not least because of its position directly on the bank of the Thames. Architectural firm Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners, which has also worked on One Hyde Park and NEO Bankside, has certainly gone for a bold approach, with each tower boasting its own brightly-coloured external joinery and transparent glass lifts.
These are to “share the drama of the view”, according to St James chairman Sean Ellis, in case you don’t have a riverside balcony. Still, each of the one, two, three and four bedroom apartments will come with a balcony or garden because the great outdoors is a big part of Riverlight, with over 75 per cent of it devoted to open space.
“We didn’t just want to build dormitories, we wanted to build a place that people from the local community could come to on their days off to have a coffee or enjoy the park.” Art also fills every corner of the “play on your way” landscaped areas with unique sculptures by artists that children are encouraged to climb over. The Royal College of Art has also set up a studio and teaching space on the ground floor of the first completed tower, next to an independent coffee shop, Sea Island Coffee, due to open next month. Supermarket Sainsbury’s, a Young’s pub and a Lebanese restaurant also bought off-plan, which is unusual for corporate commercial investors, such was their confidence in the scheme.
With only four apartments left on sale, Riverlight is due to be sold out long before its completion date in 2017, and well ahead of the expansion of the Northern Line, which will bring two new Tube stations at Nine Elms and Battersea within its vicinity by 2020.
There are four apartments left at Riverlight, starting from £800,000. Call 020 8871 7693 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.