Creativity comes to Greenwich Peninsula

Leaving North Greenwich station these days, it’s no longer simply The O2 (né, the Millennium Dome) stealing the architectural limelight. You can’t miss the roof-mounted sign announcing ‘Design District’ in large lettering at the top of David Kohn’s lime-trimmed A4 building.

Greenwich Design District launched at LDF21 as an architectural medley of 16 buildings by SelgasCano, 6a Architects, Adam Khan Architects, Architecture 00, HNNA, Barozzi Veiga, David Kohn Architects and Mole Architects. “Creativity, culture and art are the DNA of what the Peninsula is,” explains Laura Flanagan, marketing director of Knight Dragon/Greenwich Peninsula, the development company responsible for the location.

The opening of NOW Gallery was the area’s first manifestation of creative culture; the free public exhibition space for contemporary art, fashion, photography and design has played host to shows spotlighting creatives including Manjit Thapp, JeeYoung Lee, Camille Walala, Simone Brewster and many more.

“The Peninsula is for everyone and Design District is the latest evolution of that. It is intended as a permanent home for the creative industries,” says Flanagan. Understanding that the creative industries are key the city, the District was created to provide affordable spaces that were “built by creatives for creatives”. Inside, there is an array of practices holding studio spaces – from tattoo artists to footwear designers, charities to sports brands. It is this eclectic mix of creative enterprises that excites Flanagan. “A lot of people come for music, sport, comedy and entertainment venue The O2, and stay for experiences at the Peninsula,” she explains of the offering, which also includes the cafe, restaurant and co-working space Bureau, a rooftop basketball court, and Design District Canteen, a food court conceived by Spanish architecture studio SelgasCano as a transparent, inflatable-style edifice.

Over at Peninsula Square, The Tide – a linear riverside linear park designed by American interdisciplinary design studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro – hosts artworks by the likes of Damien Hirst, Allen Jones, Yinka Ilori and Morag Myerscough. For LDF23, a new site-specific artwork will be added by London-based interdimensional artist Murugiah. “It’s probably one of the most fascinating pieces I’ve worked on,” says Flanagan. Combining his Western upbringing with his South Asian heritage, Murugiah – who also trained as an architect – has created a series of 3D reflected pieces that riff off the traditions of Rangoli, a form of South Asian artistic decoration drawn on the floor or the entrances of homes. As a marriage of colour and light, the piece will provide a moment for visitors to reflect on existence and our increasingly perplexing (to put it lightly) world.

With so much free content for a variety of audiences, “how do you encourage chance encounters?” Flanagan asks. The answer? A seasonal programme of events, from Summer Sessions film screenings to a free community wellbeing festival, aims to create networks and ecosystems within the area, allowing the Peninsula to further evolve as a beacon in this creatively ascendant part of London.