A condemned industrial estate in Peckham turns out to have genuine urban vitality and a set of powerful spaces in the empty arcades and furniture showrooms.
Pluralist, diverse and stimulating, supportive to the marginal, friendly and safe, it is everything that the regeneration square down the road should be.
Looking closely at a delicate inhabitation, tough supportive materiality, and a deep melancholy essential to the city.
In place of clearance and Master Planning an Emptiness Plan:
Taking away opens up powerful, useful public spaces and under used facilities – densification by demolition.
A Suite of Projects affirms the strategy of a matrix of public rooms, spatially rich and varied in character.
Projects with building names; Underpin, Letting in, Lift core, Joiner…
Utilising Time, Unpredictability and Uncertainty; giving public spaces of differing lifespans - the spontaneous rave and a space recalled from youth.
Adam Khan begins his study with good, matter of fact detective work mapping the multicultural vitality of his site. He comes up with convincing evidence that the place although partially in disrepair and underused, is buzzing with urban vitality and culture often of a temporary transitional kind.
The scene is set for a sensitive selective interstitial open-ended urban repair strategy, being wary of displacing local people. A masterplan strategy with the usual unrealistic finality and fullness seems quite inappropriate to Adam.
At the scale of the urban landscape, Adam clears away a number of buildings standing in front of the old Peckham Railway Station, offering an ‘urban valley’, a large public space between the railway viaducts on either side. This emptiness strategy is creating potential for future yet unknown inhabitations.
At the scale of the urban block, a suite of charming interstitial projects are being proposed, supporting his reading of the existing block as ‘a castle’ with strong edges and inner courts. The description of the projects use a building process terminology, revealing Adam’s experience as a builder and his interest in bringing together the existing and the new building substance in a close way. For example, the ‘joiner’ is the project for a gallery for Gerhard Richter, playing conceptually with the materiality of an existing passage. The ‘underpin’ project divides a long court into two, and the new concrete walls are cast onto existing ruined brick walls. The ‘lift core’ project describes a charming new San Giminiano-like single room tower, with the same size and proportions as the underpin building, but in vertical formation. In these projects Adam finds
beautiful compositions and proportions inspired by archetypal classical buildings.
The tutors have called this project an inquiry into architecture, as it takes a design as research attitude in all its scales of architectural design.
John Joe Brophy
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• Entry Date: 05 July 2004
• Last Update: 05 July 2004