North Greenwich has its biggest new attraction since the cable car.
And while the dangleway is often described as a white elephant, 'The Tide' seems designed to look like one:
The Tide is a three-dimensional landscaped garden with views of the river and dome. Flower beds and small trees add texture to a series of alabaster walkways. It's all very pleasant and works on multiple levels.
The Greenwich pedways link up that big plaza in front of the O2 dome with the riverside (where an improved promenade carries on downstream). There's no real reason to carry pedestrians up to second-floor level — only a lightly-used service road must be negotiated — but it's nevertheless a joyful experience.
Those stripy bridges might look like an incidental bit of decoration to you, but to a three-year-old they are a game waiting to be played.
The walkways meander hither and thither, up and down, side to side. Time must be taken to let the journey unfold. With numerous double-backs, cantilevers to nowhere, and steps in all directions, it sometimes feels that MC Escher had a hand in the design.
The plantings are a little muted at present, with fewer colourful flowerbeds than many modern developments. Here it's more about shrubs and trees — mostly birch and pine as though to emphasise we're in North Greenwich — which sprout improbably from the bridges as well as sturdier beds at ground level.
Here and there, you'll find the inevitable sculpture. Something red and pointy like the Prudential logo masks the service road.
The most impressive sculpture stands on the shorefront, where a mermaid seems to lean against an apartment block. She'd oddly riddled with crabs. What can it betoken?
The Tide is still a little fresh around the edges for a proper appraisal but, overall, it's a bold and at times beautiful addition to this rapidly changing part of town. Given time to properly bed in, this will be a popular hangout — especially since it'll also be home to a street food market and events space.
I have one concern, though. The Tide is replete with steps and ramps and microchanges in altitude. The architects have, in most places, made this obvious with studs and floor lighting. Even so, a lot of visitors are going to be staring at their phones, grabbing those vital Instagram shots. I missed a step twice while taking the photos for this article. Once on this curious ramp to nowhere:
...and again on these near-invisible steps:
It's a minor grumble. You'll probably be OK. And you'll definitely appreciate the gentle gradients if you're in a wheelchair or have a buggy. But just be a bit careful if you're in phone-zombie mode.
Overall, The Tide is a welcoming and attractive addition to the riverside, and a much better way to get to the Clipper boats or cable car than the previous route. The opening weekend (12-14 July) offers a programme of events at the Turning Tides Festival, but one gets the impression that this will be a fun place to hang out at any time over the summer.