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The Bladders: A Legacy Project

Part 2 Project 2010
Jonathan Walker
University of Westminster | UK
The project is a model for the extension of London’s ailing water treatment cistern, and thus is a response to the classification of London as a city of ‘serious water stress’. The proposal looks towards the date 2031 when London’s reservoir cistern is expected to be unable to meet demand and when projected shifts in our climate will bring hotter, drier summers.

Inspired by natural membranes and tensile structures, the project envisages a municipal water treatment system located on the London Olympic Park. HOK/Peter Cook’s Olympic Stadium and the Aquatic Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects are given a purposeful and sustainable legacy. The stadium's outer structure and seats are reused in the proposal and the remaining basin cradles a pair of giant bladders storing water of a similar quantity to the regular reservoirs further up the Lea Valley. The Aquatic Centre shelters an anaerobic digester stomach and other components of the water screening process.

The Bladders return a segment of the Lea Valley back to its role before the ‘Olympic invasion’, as a ‘backyard’ for Londoners. The valley acts as a void, dividing East London from the main body of the city, and has always been a place where the city's utilities can be hidden away and one can escape the confines of the city streets. The spectacle of the Olympic Games is substituted for a performative utilitarian architecture to enhance the capital’s ‘life-support system’.

The Bladders lie bloated and endlessly reshaping depending on how much water is in them. The large membrane structures sag, fold, swell and flatulate. They are sustained by a set of instruments performing specific operations across the site. The instruments' residual spaces and the watery bodies upon which they operate present a bizarre architecture where, alongside utilitarian function, performance and recreation can be sought.

Jonathan Walker

Jon Walker’s final year project ‘The Bladders’ is a timely proposal designed to address the water shortage that will affect London by 2030 and synthesises his combined interests of culture,environment and landscape.

Historically the Lea Valley has been an experimental site and Abercrombie imagined it as a green corridor for London. The Bladders attempts to resolve the increasing demands on a reliable water supply and it’s storage for the capital, as well as addressing the legacy issues post the 2012 Olympics on the Lea Valley site. The Olympic site itself is exploited by reusing existing structures, some of which is reconfigured for leisure pursuits.Jon has been careful to incorporate the utilitarian nature of the reservoir with delight by exploiting the aesthetic qualities that water has; the properties of which he studied through a number of experimental models.

Beautifully drawn, Jon’s proposal is an operatic and ambitious endeavour that retains not only a sense of humour but an unflinching rigour throughout using a wide range of working methodologies, strategic design thinking and thorough research.

Susanne Isa
Sasha Leong
Markus Seifermann
• Page Hits: 18645         • Entry Date: 14 July 2010         • Last Update: 14 September 2010