The water at the Royal Docks

Regeneration news

Floating gardens coming to Royal Victoria Dock

Fancy spending time on the water surrounded by plants and wildflowers? A buoyant planting platform the size of a tennis court is coming to the Royal Docks, in Spring 2021.

We are proud to announce a unique new landscape for Royal Victoria Dock. The Royal Docks Team is currently working with Biomatrix to build a brand-new floating garden! Lushly populated with shrubs, plants and submerged planters, this new spot will be a green haven for people and nature alike, enticing locals and visitors to explore the neighbourhood.

Well-kept green spaces; routes to walk by the dock edge; and activities to animate the waterfront. These were key themes that emerged from last year’s consultation on the future of the area. In addition to planting hundreds of trees, and revamping Thames Barrier Park, the Royal Victoria Dock gardens are the start of a greener future for the Royal Docks.

Environmental sustainability and durability are central to the plans. The structure will be anchored in place in the water using durable, recycled and fully recyclable, non-toxic flotation materials. A shallow section of wetland will be incorporated to provide a diverse habitat for aquatic flora and fauna.

Jamie Gordon from Biomatrix said, "The post-industrial milieu of hard-edged urban waterways, particularly as seen in the Royal Victoria Docks, are invariably lacking in wetland diversity. Yet here at Biomatrix, we knew that we were capable of delivering a transformational and restorative green space to the dockside, but for it to really succeed there had to be a strong element of interactivity, access and engagement with the local residents.

We knew that we were capable of delivering a transformational and restorative green space to the dockside.

Jamie Gordon from Biomatrix

That’s why we’ve really focussed on the idea of a floating park: a space which could be used to escape the clamours of the everyday and allow locals and visitors alike to walk around the newly installed floating ecosystem. The evolution of the concept emerged from the original brief provided by the GLA and we developed this into the design you see now, a fully accessible floating ecosystem, with multi-tiered habitats, spanning from subsurface shallow pools to emergent shrubs and small trees, creating a diverse range of interesting habitat for both residents and wildlife.

Access to urban green spaces has a range of benefits for the local community. They can be motivational, encouraging a walk or cycle in the locale with obvious benefits to both mental and physical wellbeing; educational, encouraging young people to discover the micro-wildernesses at their doorstep; and even inspirational, sparking a lifelong fascination with the environment and instilling a sense of wonder in the natural world.

Concept image of floating gardens at Royal Victoria Dock Concept art of floating gardens at the royal docks

Concepts of Floating Gardens at Royal Victoria Docks

We have great confidence that the floating gardens at the Royal Docks will accomplish all of these and are relishing the installation where we can see it come to life".

The draft design for the gardens is shown abov, and the space is expected to open in Spring 2021, with the hope that it becomes a beloved oasis for everyone in search of a tranquil spot. It is planned to locate on the northern side of Royal Victoria Dock with ramp access down to the gardens. Measuring over 315 square metres and providing a floating wetland habitat for around 4,000 aquatic plant species, the gardens will create a unique and prominent hotspot for urban biodiversity in the centre of London. The floating gardens are being developed as a pilot project to activate the water and will support future water proposals. Though they will be located in Royal Victoria Dock initially, the structure is moveable and could be relocated elsewhere in the Royal Docks as other proposals are developed and brought forward through the wider Royal Docks works to activate the water. The floating gardens are subject to planning approval.

We have created a survey to understand your views on the floating gardens which will be live between 18 December to 13 January 2021.

As we make the floating gardens a reality, we’d like your help! If you are interested in planting or want to be involved with the installation and maintenance of the floating gardens, we’d love to hear from you.

Please also let us know if you are interested in being involved in the Friends of the Floating Garden Group.

You can contact us at royaldocks@london.gov.uk.


Please note the survey has now closed. Thank you for all your responses and feedback!