What looks like an old water tank next to the Thames is actually a raised garden, that just happens to be in what looks like an old water tank, but is in fact a modern water tank clad in copper painted steel panels.
This is the Bourne Valley Wharf pavilion, a public artwork added a few years ago as part of the wider Nine Elms regeneration.
The steel and timber structure that the pavilion is made from references the industrial heritage of the area, and what looks like an old miniature railway water tower is a water tower for the plants.
Admittedly on my visit a couple of months ago, the plants were still looking rather shattered from the summer heatwave and I had initially assumed they were just opportunistic weeds that had grown on the roof. Then I researched and found out that the whole top is a wildlife haven planted specifically to support the birds and the bees and the bugs. There are also nesting box terraces for House Sparrow in the ‘water tower’ element.
The fact that the plants are tended explained the presence of the ladder around the back of the pavilion.
The columns are painted, in a design we’re told references the heritage of the area. Somehow.
The industrial appearance though of the main copper-clad box feels suitable for the area and looks as if it’s a reuse of something that could well have been here for over a century, not a modern artwork that’s only been there for a few years.
It was however not liked by locals when planning was being considered, with quite a few objections. It was obviously approved, although technically it’s a temporary structure with planning permission for 5 years, but designed to last at least 15 years.
This isn’t just a shelter either, it has a function — as a shed. It’s actually used as storage space for public furniture to be used in the rest of Bourne Valley Wharf.