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Timber treat: Tower Wharf Café by Tony Frenton Architects.

Photos: Peter Cook.

When designing a small and relatively insignificant building next to a UNESCO world heritage site, there is always going to be pressure from some quarters to make the architecture appear virtually invisible. This particular site, between the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, is particularly charged with tension, and architecturally speaking is a place where only the brave might tread.

Tony Frenton the architect of this project, argued that the new café at the Tower of London should be “visibly striking and fanciful”. In the context of Tower Bridge, being fanciful leaves a great deal of scope as it sets the outer parameter of what fanciful might mean!

Taking its cue from the architecture of the Tower, rather than the many surrounding buildings of the City, the new café is composed of four volumes housed in two discrete forms. One of the forms resembles an upside down castellated wall, the other is long and low and connects with an existing arch under Tower Bridge. Both forms are clad in vertical strips of rough sawn English Sweet Chestnut. Taken together there is something that recalls the utilitarian timber structures of early Norman fortifications whilst remaining admirably theme-less.

A point that will be appreciated by tourists relaxing after an afternoon of staring into the stones of history.

Cafe view

View along ramparts.

Outdoor space

View with Tower

 

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