Boris Johnson popped up in Silvertown, east London yesterday to attend the topping out ceremony of The Crystal. Despite its name, and despite Boris' predilection for crime raids, this isn't some clandestine meth lab, but a new sustainability centre operated by Siemens, due to open next year.
Ideally we'd suggest you visit The Crystal's new website to learn more, but to be honest it's a bit of a mess, with a questionable design aesthetic and the kind of jumbled-up verbiage that should earn it the annual 'foot in mouth' award for bad English. Here's what we've gleaned: the £30 million facility, built around the concept of "two parallelogram forms with multiple triangular facets" (for which read: lots of edges and sheer angles) will be the anchor for a 'green enterprise district', and the focus of the wider redevelopment of Royal Docks, which City Hall and Newham council outlined last year. It will function as a conference centre and 'visitor attraction' (with the aim of luring 100,000 people annually), and create a number of jobs for locals.
City Hall also used the occasion to announce the shortlist of candidates vying for the contract to develop the wider Silvertown Quays area. They are: Chelsfield Consortium, DV4 Limited and St George Central London Ltd.
With all this development, and a cable car station to ferry people there, Royal Docks could gradually emerge from its post-industrial slumber as a focal point for London's eastern climes. Or the project may face the same indifference and scorn that a nearby attraction (we mean you, Millennium Dome) suffered. We'll begin to get an idea when The Crystal opens next year.