Following the design brief set out by the Landscape Institute, the project will propose the opportunity to design and redevelop the London Docklands site with a focus on Green Infrastructure & water sensitive urban design.
Reading the competition brief the needs and desires of redevelopment and regeneration that became obvious were; Floating villages, community integration, water activities, green space.
Overall a design of multifunctional spaces achieving greater resilience towards environmental, economic and social challenges for improved living.
Inspired design questions of interest; How can we encourage better relationships between dock edges places, water across site and water led activity. Activity could be recreational or even sustainable approaches to living.
Beginning the assignment a task was set to get the creative process flowing. This studio task allowed for the creation of 5 models and 5 drawing based around the chosen verbs, ‘to mark, to scatter, of refraction, of reflection and of symmetry’. Before starting initial thoughts relating to the docklands were triggered when considering water qualities.
'Of Reflection' Gesture drawing response - eyes closed:
Responding this verb allowed for careful consideration of water qualities relating to the docklands site through use of curving wire. Relating this model to the Sharp, clean structural elements such as the cranes it helps express how such architecture is softened by strong reflections.
'Of Refraction' Gesture drawing response - eyes open:
Considering refraction a model and response highlighted the ways in which light travels through spatial forms. Considering the docklands, any water related forms will be enhanced by refractions from light on the surface.
'To Scatter' Contour drawing:
Using the idea of scatter this visualised spatial quality that filled spaces, the model shows forms spread out, almost forming a spatial stretch across the material. Again in terms of the site the docklands could incorporate the ‘scatter’ of forms across its water landscape to encourage programmed activities throughout.
'To Mark' Contour drawing:
Mark making through modelling enabled greater understanding of interpreting marks as spatial elements that can form a programmatic composition. Adding variety through marks in landscape can fundamentally add character and interest.
'Of Symmetry' Tonal drawing:
Studying the aspect of symmetry through drawing and modelling established how spatial forms can relate to one another through identical characteristics. Symmetry can create an overriding spatial and programmatic theme within a landscape. Relating this to the London Docks symmetry could be used along with reflection to relate back to the past linear forms of the busy docks.
Above images shows a visual experiment that combines the aspects of ‘of symmetry’ and ‘of refraction’. Using these conceptual thoughts they have formed a horizontal surface that stretches across the docklands site.
Case study: KALVEBOD WAVES BY KLAR + JDS
Located in Copenhagen’ s harbour the project has introduced a new waterfront for a large spectrum of public activities. With a close connection to the central train station and Tivoli, Copenhagen’s famous city amusement park, ‘Kalvebod Bølge’, the ‘Kalvebod Waves’ aimed to become a hub, buzzing with activity and providing a chance for the inner city to regain its connection to the harbour. The design consists of two main plazas, which extend across the water, positioned with regards to sunlight and wind conditions. A pier allows for a flexible public space on the water with facilities to host events related to the creative industry.
Looking briefly at this it enabled understand a recreational response a way of bringing the community together to experience the old harbour in new ways.Through wind, water current and movement of the sun the walkways and platforms were shaped suitable to maximize site conditions.
Historical reflection and connection
From interests drawn for a chosen dissertation subject of ideas relating to industrial tourism through reflection on both memory and industrial processes, considering redevelopment for the dockland it will be of great interest and value to reflect on the past industrial values, processes and structures of the docklands. Looking at historic photos enabled greater definition of former dockland buzzing industrial activity. Using this as a catalyst, this subject could enable community connection with the site.
Crucial site analysis
Before stepping into final design aspirational drawings it was important to consider basic site analysis, studying the docks context in terms of built form and spatial layout.
First series of images show a basic analysis schematic of the entire docklands site, revealing residential, commercial land use. Diagramming this site helped suggest potential design moves towards a floating village and sustainable living solutions spread throughout the docklands water body. This development could draw surrounding communities together into a central community hub, whilst allowing connections to either side.
Studying the created mapping above it reveals the docks to be surrounded by a large expanse of residential housing which has incorporated several commercial developments (office & hotel). Built form consists of a rigid grid structure, emphasising the old dock industrial layout.
Historical spatial layout…
Allowing for a redevelopment to reflect on the past activities and life of the docks, historical maps were crucial to consider. Studying the spatial forms the docks formerly incorporated, the mapping reveals them to be linear forms that stretch across the water almost being symmetrical. Moving into design sketches and site programming considering design spaces related to the linear, bold forms of the old shipping docks will enable emphasis on connections to history and life.
From initial project development and the idea of reflection, this triggered ideas linking reflection with contrasting the past with the future. The image above shows a simple gesture drawing that indicates the linkage between past and future. Taking this idea forward any design thoughts will relate back to the connection of past history and its importance when planning for the future.
A second gesture drawing helped tie together greater meaning behind reflection and connection of past and future, suggesting both have equal importance within a balanced programmatic system. Developing a design concept from this, a focus towards history’s programme and past docklands character will enable a design that incorporates historic value whilst catering for sustainable demands and therefore the needs of future generations - connecting the past with the future.
The idea of the docklands historical personality was initiated through study of the sites historical forms and past processes. Relating this to future demands of sustainable living, design intentions revolved around the idea of connecting people with the past as a way of providing for the future. To achieve intended design programme spatial forms would reflect those from the past.Therefore the developed concept could be titled ‘Histories Personality’, a title heading a design method that would enabled connections with the past identity of the docks as a way of moving forward, projecting a design solution to satisfy future needs.
Schematics: developing spatial forms…
Considering the former spatial layout of the docks from 1870, it enabled understanding of the sites linear forms that were created from the programmed activity of ships.
The next step was adapting these linear forms to suit the idea of walkways and paths that would later have the potential to serve purpose across he docks. The sketches above suggest how linear block forms were altered into triangulated paths.
Applying to the site and the first stage of visualising connected the water edges with the centre of the water body. Maintaining some historic linear layout, lines were extended from current features of the dock edges e.g cranes, bays and walls. From a 3d sketch, the lines drawn replicate past linear gestures of forms.
Establishing these initial connections, sketches then figured the ideal space for a floating village. Stretching across the site the space reflects similar properties of individual docks - especially the airport layout. Following historic forms the idea suggests the new built forms of the village emphasize this through industrial container ship layout. Viewing the wider picture on arrival the new village will hold greater aesthetic values aimed towards the site history.
Following the development of triangulated path structures, these were then applied to the site to increase user connectivity in relation to the edge context and the central floating village. A combination of angled forms establishes a consistent spacial programme that utilises the docks new requirements, whilst reflecting on past industrial activity.
Continuing spatial development built forms were incorporated within the allocated village space. These forms were kept being narrow and ordered along linear spaces. Doing this the built forms will reflect on the past docking layout of ships when stationary ans therefore relate back to the busy shipping landscape of the past. Along with this introducing rounded off triangular planting beds across the linear village will emphasize the former docks and its spatial programme through reflection of industrial architecture e.g. ships. Within this floating village spaces have be given over the hold green space and floating parkland (although minimal planting will be the focus later).
Visualising from plan…
Once this process had reached this stage a design was coming together that utilised the entire dock space surface in terms of edge connectivity. From observation the spatial forms do on some level reflect the old spatial principles of the historic dock values and activities.
Potential design land use…
The mapping created below shows a potential design and how it has incorporated different land uses through the developed historical rigid structure. Establishing a busy floating village surrounded by areas of wetland for water cleansing, marshland for ecology and plots for crop growth, the design aims to provided the site with a programme and vision towards sustainable living.
Initial design visualisation sketches…
This simple sketch of the potential design shows an aerial view of how the new proposal attempts to connect surrounding communities within its context. These large scale linear connections emphasize the sites industrial heritage and scale. From a functional aspect having multiple connections across the water’s edge will allow for ease of circulation and useability.
The second sketch shows basic design programming, revealing industrial scale buildings that make up a central avenue of retail and leisure services that will provide the main attraction. Surrounding the retail ‘village’ will be a system that maximizes water usage through the provision of space for water cleansing, water sports and food production.
Another sketch visualises how the element of food production will function. Following the rigid industrial form layout to fit design concepts a system of rectangles will system food produce across the site allowing for efficient production that better contributes towards a sustainable future.
This last sketch shows how the food production rectangles have been stretched out across the water to incorporate a docking system for sailing boats and ships. Having this in place creates an open linkage across the water into the other docks within the London Docks system.
Basic design modelling: The series of images below show visuals of the computer model that was constructed during the process of visualising a final design
Constructing a final presentation physical model then helped to visualise the industrial structured layout in scaled reality. Below are a series of images that express the design vast form and presence within the docklands, how the linear forms improve connectivity and reflect the mood of a once busy dock.
The model was keyed showing the sites land use that covered the water-scape; designating space for water, wetland, marshland and crop growth…
Final design visual board - Applying a retro photographic filter upon the graphics helped set the mood for a historic reflection and response in terms of design…