Home to London's only lighthouse, fine stock buildings and examples of the innovative Container City buildings. This former buoy manufacturing site is now a centre for the creative industries with various sculptures and installations.
Container City, Lacey and Partners, ABK Architects, Eric Reynolds, James Douglass,
The iconic Experimental Lighthouse, and its neighbour the Chain and Buoy Store were built by James Douglass in 1864 and were in constant use to test maritime lighting equipment and train lighthouse keepers.
The roof space ajoining the present lighthouse housed the workshop for the famous scientist Michael Faraday.
In 1869, Trinity House set up an engineering establishment at Trinity Buoy Wharf to repair and test the new iron buoys then coming into use. Overcrowding soon became a problem, and in 1875 the works expanded westwards into the neighbouring property, previously Green's Shipyard. By 1910 Trinity Buoy Wharf was a major local employer, with some 150 engineers, platers, riveters, pattern makers, blacksmith, tinsmiths, carpenters, painters, chain testers and labourers working here.
The Wharf continued through the twentieth century to be responsible for supplying and maintaining navigation buoys and lightships between Southwold in Suffolk and Dungeness in Kent. It was modernised and partially rebuilt between 1947 and 1966, and finally closed on 3rd December 1988 when it was purchased by the London Docklands Development Corporation. In 1996 Urban Space Management took the site on a long lease.
Container City was born out of a developer's vision of new studio space at a construction cost low enough to ensure affordable rents. Economic pressure was the mother of invention – in this case the utilisation of surplus shipping containers (generated by the UK's import/export discrepancy).
The isolated site was compulsory purchased by the LDDC and then repurchased from them upon its demise on the basis that this was to be the intended pattern of development.
CC1 (2001) was a very cost effective scheme (simply stacked units, @£30sq ft as opposed to £120 standard at the time) with over 80% being made of recycled material. The 'building' has running water and electricity, porthole windows in units and balconies created from the doors being welded open.
Container City II (2002) adds additional workspace as fifteen 40ft shipping containers stacked together over three levels and divided into 12 working units to create a total of 4,800sq ft of space. Nicholas Lacey was brought in to add a more complex architecture to the whole in order that it could act as a demonstration project. This has entailed a degree of 'illogical' load transfers and wall removals that have added to costs (about 20% above what was necessary). In addition, two containers have been propped on end to provide lift and escape stair stacks linked by an open deck to the container stacks.