YEAR THREE – DS3.4
Tutors: Paolo Zaide and Tom Budd
Paolo Zaide is an architect, academic and curator, and Course Leader for BA Architecture at the University of Westminster.
Tom Budd is an architect and visualiser based in London, specialising in the production of visualisations that look beyond the ‘photo real’ and strive to capture the feelings and atmospheric qualities an unbuilt space could embody.
Island Cities: Reimagining the edges of the Thames Gateway
On 1st March 2022, the Essex resort of Southend- on-Sea was granted City Status, becoming England’s 52nd city. Located on the nor th side of the Thames Estuary, it forms part of the Thames Gateway – a cluster of cities, towns and villages, and the country’s largest regeneration project.
Southend’s city edge is defined by seven miles of coastline that is home to the longest pier in the world to the south, and the single 6,000-foot-long asphalt runway of London’s Southend Airport to the north. To the west, it bleeds out into farm and river marshlands by Leigh-on- Sea and Canvey Island – fragile ecologies defined by tidal flows and cultural shifts that continue to radically change this landscape. With Southend being raised to city status, where will the regeneration start and where might it perhaps end?
This year, DS(3)4 challenged traditional notions of boundaries, and explored analogue and digital strategies to plot, adapt and re-imagine unknown fields. In the race to become a new tech-, garden- or smart-city, the act of ‘building’ Southend City challenged what it means to create a city at all. Could one draw from a past wealth of culture and stories, captured in paintings of Constable or scenes in Dickens’ Great Expectations? Or could one be inspired by Canvey Island today – its backdrop of romantic creeks, intoxicating oil jetties and the blues music of Britain’s Mississippi delta? As we drifted along the estuary, we encountered sunbathers next to petrochemical plants, golf carts cruising past caravan fields, and youthful weekend anglers waiting for their catch of the day at the end of Southend’s Pier. The Studio offered a fresh angle on the Estuary and imagined a different type of city – and buildings full of drama and potential for Southend’s future.