While the construction process of Crossrail stumbles, the development of alternative service utilities proceeds apace in a small community trapped between London City Airport, a sugar factory and the Thames Gateway. Here, standing on the edge of an economic abyss, different programmes of both old and new, small and large, temporary and permanent, collide, creating a beautifully incomplete city with an uncertain future that goes beyond its given context. Its construction, destruction and excavation reveal textural details beneath the urban fabric. Taking apart the rigid structure of the city, reusing and recycling its past components, allows us to speculate on its remodelling.
Our design objective is to make familiar objects unfamiliar. Our technique is the collage of found fragments and objects. Empirical fieldwork is conducted through direct observation and sampling of Silvertown and Tokyo revealing taxonomies of urban fields. And inspiration is taken from visits to buildings like La Tourette. In extended sessions in Hooke Park we get lost in these fields, feeling our way around the physical and imagined realities by cutting, casting, turning, welding and baking expressions of our micro-cites.
We discover potential in the discarded, the forgotten and the obsolete; in the contaminated brown fields of Silvertown, the rusting shells of forgotten warehouses or the archaic hull of a grain silo, in the great pools of water of the disused Royal Docks and the tidal River Thames that once provided a lifeline to the area. What appears as an impediment is transformed into a possibility, a trigger of playful speculation and investigation.
We are looking at how voids and abandoned structures in the area can be utilised by reuse, speculating alternative programmes and service facilities for the area. Taking over heavy industrial machinery and redefining its functions through its by-products intersecting and complementing existing flows of material and energy, alternative futures are proposed to challenge the generic clean sweep approach of current investment driven-development.
Special Thanks to
Monia De Marchi
David Graham Shane
Matthew Murphy (Design for London)
Charlie and Georgie Corry-Wright
Tate and Lyle Sugar Refinery
Tokyo National University of Fine Arts, Maeda Corporation