Design Studio (Three) Four

BA Architecture

YEAR THREE – DS3.4

Tutors: Paolo Zaide & Tom Budd

Peripheral Landscapes 

This year Design Studio 3.4 questions how we could reimagine the peri-urban and blurred edges of the Thames Gateway.

The UK Government has marked the edges of the Thames Estuary as ground for regeneration and further urbanisation. Connecting the point of Westferry in East London to the Isle of Sheppey and the pier of Southend, this 70 kilometer stretch has also been described as the Thames Gateway. Once home to many hard and commercial industries these lands are characterised by a lack of access to public transport, services and employment, whilst at the same time, the surrounding farm and wild salt marshlands host some of the country’s most fragile ecologies. With tidal flows continuously shifting this landscape, what is this a ‘Gateway’ to?  

This year DS3.4 is exploring these peri-urban and the blurred edges of the River Thames. We challenge traditional notions of boundaries, and explore analogue and digital Landscape Urbanism Strategies to plot, adapt and reimagine these unknown fields. 

Perhaps to understand this landscape, alternative ways of framing and speculating are necessary. The wet and misty landscapes are introduced in the opening passage Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ and the ever-changing character of river and sea are captured in sketch and oil on numerous Turner canvases. Pockets of the estuary have also developed as landing places and shipping ports, whilst the North Kent marshes conceal a stranger history of military training, gunpowder production and chemical explosives works. More recently it has been used as the backdrop for Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘Full Metal Jacket’. The Studio seeks to draw inspiration from this wealth of place and narrative to propose a richer sense of identity for the Estuary.