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Woolwich Free Ferry Terminal

Part 1 Project 2000
Rosa Chan
University of Greenwich | UK
Once was a busy port, then became a deserted dock, the Royal Victoria Dock is gradually becoming alive with new developments. The proposal is to build a ferry depot on the site of the redundant lock of this deserted dock that will act as the gateway from the Thames, the city, and the dock areas. The project aims to re-link the deserted area with the city and is an opportunity to enliven the district by activating the community. The design signifies the building’s importance in the urban structure.

The building mediates between the land and the river and creates an appropriate piece of architecture, which is specific in its relationship to the river taxis. The design of the depot is intended to be site specific and acknowledge and reflect the qualities of the site as well as the special characteristics of the building’s programme. A floating deck accompanied with a reclaimed slope underneath will provide a steady slope throughout the great tidal change of the Thames and secure its accessibility to the public.

In addition, there is no major open green space for public leisure in the area, a long grass roof covering the deck is proposed to act as a public garden that links the steady dock water with the dynamic Thames. The inclined grass roof garden acts as a viewing platform from which to appreciate the quietness of the River Thames and the empty dock area. Its simple shape gives a sense of direction leading to the ferry catching point. It also creates a public realm that is pleasing to all kinds of user and provides an unconstrained atmosphere for all public activities.

Industrial facilities and a poorer portion of residents are dominating the area with inadequate leisure facilities. A line of industrial buildings stands along the river and act as a barrier between the residential areas and the horizontal scene of the Thames. The new building is a piece of infrastructure that benefits the community. As a public transport facility, the proposed ferry depot is designed to include recreational spaces for public use. As well as the building fulfilling and embracing a specific functional role it includes elements of delight.

Rosa Chan

River Taxi Depot, North Woolwich. by Rosa Chan

The project focused on the industrial urban landscape of North Woolwich and The Thames and started by looking at how the experience of a journey is affected by the built environment as well as by events or social interactions. Rosa’s proposal for a River taxi Depot was extensively researched; looking at the relationship between transport and its home and the forms of inhabitation in transport terminals. As well as investigating typologies of buildings with wet feet, Infrastructures, technology and the history of the Thames and the docks.

Issues were raised about what was important on the site such as materials, topography, river edge and retaining walls, views and connections. Working extensively in section the project describes all of these and other observations that were of key significance on the site, such as the relationship to the Dome and city airport.

The proposal considered carefully how the transport terminal would be inhabited both by way of the accepted functions of the building and other unexpected events. It examined intelligently the buildings relationship to the surrounding neighbourhoods expanding the programme of the building to include leisure facilities and public park deftly fusing building and landscape and treating the project as a piece of urban regeneration.

Alex Ely
Atelier 2 Tutor
Greenwich University School of Architecture

• Page Hits: 4067         • Entry Date: 09 February 2000         • Last Update: 10 May 2001