Previously used as grain and animal feed mills, the Millennium Mills complex has been vacant since the closure of the Royal Docks - once London's economic powerhouse - in 1981. The complex consists of three ten-storey blocks, initially built in 1905 and partially rebuilt and extended in the 1930s and 50s. It was the largest mill of its kind in Europe, and contained a forest of machinery, chutes, ducts and pipes; unusually for an abandoned industrial complex, some of this equipment remains.
The Mills sit at the heart of Silvertown on the Royal Docks, and their redevelopment will form a key focal point of a £3.5bn regeneration programme which aims to renew the area as an innovation hub and local centre with new commercial, community and residential buildings. Once restored and extended, the Mills will provide work, retail and social space and act as an anchor for the Silvertown Quays development.
The complex contains a series of industrial volumes with a special quality that will be maintained as part of its reinvention. A new concrete wing and core will continue the Mills’ vernacular of aggregated components established through its history of continuous adaptation and extension. Sandwiched between retail and cafés at ground floor and rooftop eating, drinking and gathering space will be flexible offices, reconfigurable to suit the needs of creative startups and growing businesses. The original milling equipment and infrastructure will be reinstated within common areas, providing a powerful physical presence to the interiors and illustrating the building's significance as an urban industrial monument. Surrounding the Mills, the dock wall will be repaired and new landscape will evolve over the phasing of the Silvertown development, in the meantime accommodating outdoor uses and activities.