My e.state research revealed resident concerns and e.state inadequacies including; a lack of suitable play space, places to meet friends, feelings of lost community, inadequate council maintenance and a deep fear of crime.
From my first visits to the e.state it became clear that the fear of the circulation network including lifts, stairwells, alleyways and walkways, and the predominance of undefined external space led to the residents lack of e.state interaction.
Mappings of the residents daily activities also revealed patterns of skills, economy and social leakage from the e.state.
THE FRAMEWORK FOR REGENERATION
The programme incorporates a LETs (local economy trading scheme). This allows residents to receive goods and services they cannot usually afford, creates opportunities for social interaction, helps maintain and develop skills, reduces leakage from the community and provides a framework for responsible, sustainable ownership of the e.state.
The project focuses on three main areas within Andover Estate:
1 Regeneration of the despised mountain blocks
2 The creation of a public square/ event space at the e.state's centre
3 The manifestation of principal e.state cross circulation paths as 'promendal pathscapes'.
The most feared aspect of the mountain blocks is the journey to the front door. A new inhabitable circulation core with branches to flats allow activities to part occupy 'social platforms' and attract residents and non residents to occupy the blocks 24hrs a day.
The spaces are formed by a series of sliding partition walls and panels within the cladding system to allow a children's party to extend from a flat, or a platform to become a sun terrace or weekly yoga hall. Choice within the cladding system allows change of use and expression of ownership to be managed by the residents.
A new palette of circulation, vegetation and play surfaces develops as promenadal pathscapes. Existing external space is gradually rationalised and maintained through the new programmes. These paths form new entrances, a new resource and communicative and service networks for the estate.
A live research project; the 'Tollington Initiative' aimed to confront the social and environmental deprivations of five 'Sink' Estates in the London Borough of Islington.
The work was approached in three stages: 1-descriptions of a 24 hour period of your life. 2-Site research mappings, exhibitions, door to door surveys, public art projects, etc. 3-Suggestions for improvements to the estate both programmatic and PROJECT WORK
Karen first mapped out a 24 hour segment of her own life recording time, place, state of mind, action, etc. This approach was applied in the second project, whereby five residents were asked to record a day in their life with the contents of a pack which contained a disposable camera, a pen and a pre-printed diary, allowing their movements to be cross referenced on a series of maps. Karen also mapped local economics and safe and dangerous territories on the estate and carried out interviews for the 'Oral History Project', run by Esther Caplan. Karen's painstaking research revealed a series of issues which have been tackled together to give the physical component of the project the chance of success.
The solution envisaged a time based recovery project of three years growth addressing the environmental, economic and security concerns mapped, rehabilitating the area through the re-inhabitation of the abandoned undercroft, empty flats and circulation spaces of the three ten-storey ziggurat 'Mountain' blocks which stand at the fear 'epicentre' of the estates. The programme was defined as part LETs, developed from a series of scenarios drawn from real life profiles, part support for a number of grey economic initiatives- identified on site at the research stage (mini cab control rooms & lounge machinists space, printing press for card maker, pirate radio, etc.) and part co-operative & site management 'office' spaces. A number of flexible spaces also provided to cater for social events ranging from gymnasia to shops. The programmatic mix and its spatial distribution were regarded as a means of repopulating and intensifying the use of the public spaces, reclaiming them for public use at all times.
Each block had its own specific agenda which was envisaged as extending outward to the surrounding areas as part and parcel of the landscape suggestions. In this way the reuse of various circulation routes was to be attained, whilst further space was progressively mined back into community use in the form of play areas, communal allotments, sports pitches.
This project was very well received by both the university and the residents it sought to respond to. It is clear, courageous and unpretentious. It does not boast about graphic prowess, nor does it see the architect as the centre of the universe, but it does show how creative disciplines can be integrated into and help shape projects of social and spatial renewal.