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Commendation

Barking and Dagenham - The New Civic Industrial Culture

Part 2 Project 2002
Amalia Skoufoglou
Janek Ozmen
Jody O'Sullivan
Shan He
Simon Gould
Simon Murray
Tom Houston
University of Cambridge Cambridge UK
Many cities are striving to develop a service culture and to decant their industry to distant places. This seems deeply unsustainable and deprives civic life of the concrete imagination arising from involvement with making.

Bernadette McGuigan, Chief Planning Officer of Barking and Dagenham, and Mark Brearley, of the GLA A+U Unit, both expressed the view that the area should have its own integrity, higher density, more intense civic life and should cultivate its industrial heritage (presently the only borough with significant industry).

We developed a strategy for progressive concentration of the current, largely suburban topography about the two historic centres of Barking and Dagenham - each centre with a different character - as a way 'towns' could develop on the edges of large cities. The concentration would leave extensive natural areas for agriculture, bioremediation, coppicing, etc.

Secondly, we recognised that the new modes of production and prototyping required a few industries, which could develop in mutual symbiosis and across a range of skills. This culture would form the basis of the long-term identity of the town, as against the alternative of 'branding'.

Lastly, we strove to find a strategy for growth and change other than either 'master-plan' development, or the vulnerability of purely home-grown initiatives. We arrived at the idea of 'seed-building' urbanism, whereby an archipelago of institutions, in this case oriented around the themes pertaining to civic industrial culture, would provide the framework for subsequent 'infill' development that was ad hoc, more sensitive to change. A city is the apparent paradox of a permanent receptacle for change, a topography of praxis, establishing the ethical horizons for a potentially creative freedom.

Amalia Skoufoglou
Janek Ozmen
Jody O'Sullivan
Shan He
Simon Gould
Simon Murray
Tom Houston


This group of students was most unusual in being able to work well collaboratively – organising themselves in teams or working as a whole as the situation required. Whether this was because of the great size of the project or personalities, they were able to generate a great wealth of material, to test alternatives, and to develop innovative approaches to issues affecting many cities. The richness of collaboration produced three key insights. The twin-city motif grew out of urban metabolism studies in Cambridge. The notion of industrial symbiosis, and the wealth of related skills as a new civic culture, grew out of extensive research in sustainable industry, with urban ideals in mind. The concept of seed-building urbanism was inspired by the given topography, although it seems to have a general validity. The slides, and the A3 book, are radically boiled down from the year's studies - the designs of the seed-buildings have been suppressed altogether, in the belief that the more significant contribution lay at the urban level. A very memorable group of students.

2002
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