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Gateway to Silvertown

Part 2 Project 1999
Kasia Boguslawska
University of Cambridge, UK

Diploma Unit 3 concentrated on the redevelopment of Silvertown in London Docklands questioning the existing proposal for the area. My preconceptions of Silvertown were of a commercially attractive area, well integrated into London and very much a part of the city. But my first impression of the site was very different.

The vast expanses of vacant land and the dwarfing scale of the Docks seemed to be denied by most of the new developments and convinced me that I was dealing with a unique territory, somewhere between city and suburbia.

Investigations and site observations of individuals and institutions revealed Silvertown’s isolation, both on large scale of the city and on the very private level of neighbourhood interaction.

The aim of the project was to find a way of re-establishing missing links. Working with a large variety of scales, the scheme does not prescribe a future for the area but provides a manufactured landscape that could be inhabited in many unforeseen ways. It is a space of negotiation and interaction in an area of urban and social contradictions – between the residential and industrial part of Silvertown, the docks and the river Thames, between work, travel and pleasure.

Kasia Boguslawska

Challenging the issue of the 'Brownfield Site' Diploma Unit 3 researched its radical reconception, speculating on a new landscape capable of spanning between the shopping mall and the baroque garden to accommodate the stretched city, a landscape that folds the ideal with the intimate.

Kasia's work stood out within the diploma school for a number of reasons. Her extensive research tested the initial speculation of the unit and amplified its agenda to uncover a potential architectural and programmatic vocabulary. She worked ambitiously at a number of scales, confidently challenging preconceptions and on a individual level she was courageous enough to question her own expectations of architecture.

Kasia analysed the negotiation of the Royal Victoria Docks at Silvertown which provided the challenge of a landscape on a scale to rival Versailles, punctuated only by the iconic silhouettes of the Tate + Lyle Sugar Refinery and City Airport. In her investigation, the scale of the surrounding suburban drifts and industrial tracts was countered against the immensity of the residual bodies of water in the Docks. Simultaneously, evident on the scale of the local school bus, journeys within the area were harnessed to act a catalysts for informal exchange in an area of segregation and zoning.

Working with the topographic and programmatic, Kasia created a manufactured landscape as a point of transition between an isolated area and the rest of the city. The form of new built landscape - combining surburban transport interchange, pub and fishmarket - provided an extension of public activity caught between pleasure and industry at the river's edge.

Above all her worked progressed the aim of the unit to locate a potential architecture in which social contradictions can play against one another and, as in the desciption of Dan Graham's work, the utopian forms that constitute a better or ideal society are folded into the forms of everyday life.

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