Lea River Park — London

London Legacy Development Corporation / London Thames Gateway Development Corporation / Lee Valley Regional Park Authority / Design for London / LB Newham / LB Tower Hamlets

Jonathan Cook Landscape Architects / Alan Baxter Associates / Capita / Ecology Consultancy / Latz + Partner, Colliers CRE / Davis Langdon / Jane Wernick Associates / Whitby Bird

5th studio have been involved as master planners and architects for the development of the public realm of the Lower Lea Valley since 2007.

Our principle engagement in the valley has been with the Lea River Park; it is central to the wider regeneration of the area, which will continue to undergo massive change over the coming decades. In 2008 5th studio completed the Lea River Park Design Framework, creating a vision, landscape strategy and delivery framework, which has informed local planning policies and the projects currently being delivered. This Framework was reinforced through the publication in 2017 of the Lea River Park Primer and Design Manual.

The Lea River Park connects Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the Royal Docks and the River Thames with new continuous public parklands - ‘completing’ the 26-mile long Lee Valley Regional Park. The strategic first phase of this vision is the delivery of a linear park named the Leaway, which creates a continuous walking and cycling route along the River Lea. This connects a series of existing but fragmented public open spaces. Over time this route will be added to with new parks and additional pedestrian and cycle connections, delivered as land becomes available.

A unique opportunity to reframe the focus of the Lower Lea Valley around the Lea River

The Leaway is the first phase in delivering this park, in tackling the most challenging physical severances that affect the Lea River Park, these projects fulfil a key-enabling role. By providing the backbone of the emerging park, the Leaway will be instrumental in creating and assembling 235ha of new and improved public open space within the Lower Lea Valley.

This requires the delivery of a series of infrastructural and public realm projects to overcome key disconnections down the valley. These first phase projects have been designed in detail and are going to be delivered in the next few years.

Projects have ranged from new bridges spanning the Lea, developing proposals for visitor centres to the delivery of new riverside landscapes. Alongside individual projects 5th studio continued to provide an overarching design advisory role, helping to coordinate this cross-borough project and its integration into the regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley.

A new foreground for east London stretching from the Thames to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

The judges were taken by the practice’s approach — rather than traditional top-down masterplanning, it mended the existing through careful weaving with the new.

Masterplanning Architect of the Year Award, 2012 Judges citation

View from Poplar Reach Bridge towards Poplar Reach Park – the bridge will provide a connection from the first phase of the Leaway to a new 6ha active park landscape

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park / LLDC

The completed re-landscaping of Three Mills Green was Highly Commended in the Landscape Institute 2012 Awards

While the Olympic Park and its associated paraphernalia of furniture and lighting did its best to lay a freshly designed carpet over an area of shagginess, 5th Studio’s work feels more like the kind of hard-working infrastructure that might have always been here.

Oliver Wainwright, The river that London forgot, The Guardian, April 2017

Photography by Philip Vile and David Grandorge



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We are currently recruiting Part 1 designers for both our Cambridge and London studios. Please send CVs and short portfolios to us via recruitment@5thstudio.co.uk.

We actively encourage qualified applicants who are Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, disabled, female and LGBTQIA+ as these groups are under-represented throughout the built environment professions.