The Origin and Splendor of the Royal Docks

In the early 19th century, with the expansion of the British Empire and the rise of trade, it became clear that there was a need to build larger docks on the river to accommodate larger ships, incorporating better facilities and the latest technology and innovations. The first, the Victoria Dock, was opened in 1855, followed by the Albert Dock in 1880. They became the most important docks in the city, creating employment and accommodation opportunities for workers and expanding the residential areas in the vicinity. The last dock to be built was the King George V Dock, opened in 1921 by King George V, who at the same time named the dock complex Royal.

Revival after Decline in Trading

The Royal Docks survived a number of subsequent historical events.

They were, however, unable to cope with the containerization of large cargo ships, unable to sail upriver to them. Other ports thus developed downstream on the Thames and, gradually, business at the Royal Docks declined until they closed to merchant traffic in 1981, becoming disused and causing high levels of unemployment.

London’s former docks form an extensive waterfront with multiple possibilities: public spaces, parks, community areas, and pedestrian and cycling connections. The Royal Docks is now a creative, business, and leisure center, home to major entities such as London City Airport, the largest campus of the University of East London (UEL), and the major exhibition center ExCeL London.


Perfecting the Thames Barrier Park

Opened in 2000, the multi-award-winning park is a true example of 7 hectares of transformation, a joint design between landscape architect Allain Provost and architectural firm Patel Taylor. Situated on a site that formerly housed a chemical factory, it is a highly praised green space, demonstrating the potential of public investment in urban parks. The Thames Barrier Park is notable for its rich landscape, abundance of species, as well as its facilities and amenities.

Since the opening of the park two decades ago, the Royal Docks has undergone significant changes associated with an increase in population and building and, consequently, the generation of new realities and expectations. The upgrade project drawn up by the consultancy firm in 2021 thus responds to a series of improvement objectives. These include increasing the number of visitors and enriching their experience, improving infrastructure and the environment, and creating a warm and safe park. The lighting, street furniture, and renovated paving ensure synergy with the overall function and aesthetics of the space. In particular, the lighting design pays special attention to both users’ safety and local wildlife, protecting and adapting to their needs.


The Urbidermis urban elements, both furniture and lighting, have been selected for their ability to provide comfort and companionship. The simplicity, discretion, and robustness of the 108 bench offers a quality solution with rhomboidal shapes, blending in with the surrounding vegetation. Trapecio, on the other hand, is a large piece designed for social gatherings. The bench stands out for the beauty and generosity of its geometry, transforming the space in this splendid park for urban leisure.

Outdoor lighting offers a source of well-being. Arne, the urban floodlight, is a magnificent lighting system thanks to its clarity and versatility. It provides functional luminosity to meet the various needs of the location. Skyline, meanwhile, guards every step of the way, offering a friendly urban beacon combining essential lines, light, and color. It subtly delimits and structures the routes through the Thames Barrier Park with its close proximity.

Improving the Experience on the Connaught Bridge and RAW Overpass

Also planned by Mott MacDonald in 2021, the Connaught Bridge and Royal Albert Way Overpass renovations are part of the “Keep Newham Moving” program. The aim of the program is to rehabilitate the condition of roads and footpaths and street lighting in the borough to encourage and facilitate more active travel through Newham, connecting key communities.

It aims to enrich the visual and physical experience of people walking and cycling, and enhance biodiversity by creating a green corridor for local species.
This is an opportunity to enhance public spaces, creating a pleasant, attractive, and inviting environment.

Installed on a column, the Arne Urban floodlight and its smaller version, the Arne S, provide orderly and effective lighting. With good uniformity ratios and allowing light to be directed where it is needed, they reinforce the feeling of safety for residents, who can enjoy a continuous, quality route even at night.