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Cutty Sark Gardens · London, the United Kingdom

Tidal tectonics

A major square for London celebrating ebb and flow in the city


Cutty Sark Gardens is a public space, inspired by tides, that forms a hybrid between a square and a garden. By embracing and celebrating opposites, Cutty Sarks was designed to create a comfortable place to stay, yet fully connected with the continuous change and flow around it.

London, the United Kingdom
2009 - 2012
Project area
2,2 ha
London borough of Greenwich (UK)
Nio Architecten, Buro Happold
Photography credits
Annie Beugel

Mayor’s Great Spaces

Cutty Sark Gardens is one of the key projects in the Mayor’s Great Spaces initiative for public space. In preparation for the Olympic Games 2012 in London, the task was to redevelop the run-down transfer space into an inviting square. It was important to rediscover the forgotten qualities of the square on the Thames River and create a gateway to the centre of Greenwich. When you stand on Cutty Sark Gardens the history can be felt; the naval past and the significance of the tea clipper, Cutty Sark that can be experienced in Greenwich.

Creator of meaningful places

Square of Ebb and Flow

Through the plan ‘Tidal Tectonics’ we introduce the square of the ebb and flow, responding to the flows, not only of the river but also of people: quiet in the early hours and with a large number of visitors during holidays. The strength of the ‘tidal’ square is based on flexibility and joining paved open spaces with colourfully flowering gardens. ‘Tectonics’ is used as the metaphor of how the heights on the square create one unified surface surrounding the ship, with green steps towards the river creating a balcony overlooking the city.


“The new square is a demonstration of how contemporary spaces can provide liveliness, but also offer a green backdrop for the 21st-century city.”


Crucial link

With the addition of Cutty Sark Gardens, London has another prominent space on the Thames, a crucial link in achieving the city’s vision for a green connection along the river. Views of the industrial heritage, the skyline of London and the connection to the heart of Greenwich are important added values. The new square is a demonstration of how contemporary spaces can provide liveliness, but also offer the green backdrop for the 21st-century city.

Cutty Sark Gardens emerges as an exceptional and inviting outdoor space that embodies the dynamic nature of tides and merges contrasts harmoniously. Embracing change and movement, this inviting space provides a residence for relaxation and connection amid the ever-flowing currents of the urbanised environment.

Creator of meaningful places

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