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the raw and the cooked

Part 2 Project 2003
Gideon Brimmer
Tom Brigden
London Metropolitan University London UK
Historically a flood plain washed by the River Thames Chequers Lane, Dagenham is now an industrial wasteland. This project attempts to bridge the divide between historic grazing marsh and industrialised plane. By reintroducing elements of the ancient flood defence system, a ridge at the height of the river wall traverses Dagenham’s lowland. This ‘land bridge’ reconnects Dagenham with the River. A further system of ‘land jetties’ supported by the principal ridge describe enclosures or ‘land rooms.’ This matrix of ‘land rooms’ unifies the site. Vacant rooms support thriving natural ecologies whilst offering an ‘invitation to build’ for new green industries.
Gideon Brimmer
Tom Brigden




Gideon Brimmer

the raw and the cooked
an ensemble of land rooms

This project demonstrates a good understanding of the site in the former marshlands along the Thames River in South Dagenham, London. A careful tracing and modelling of the long history of flood protection earth embankments that have been constructed on this site, forms the basis of the design thesis. The initial move is to rebuild a north south dike that originally stopped flooding between one county and another, and makes a direct physical and spatial connection between Dagenham and the river.

A study visit to the Malmö Eastern Cemetery in southern Sweden designed by Sigurd Lewerentz was clearly very inspiring for Gideon. The landscape infrastructure of land room clusters for the inhabitation by dead people has given strength to Gideon’s fledgling initial idea of designing attractive sites for future industrial development in Dagenham. Gideon’s pacing out of Lewerentz’s embankment rooms is documented in a lovely survey sketch in this study.

Equipped with a good measure of intellectual rigour and sensitivity, the study sets off with a healthy architectural authority. Gideon has a fair idea what he wants to design in the industrial dereliction and constantly changing disorder of the Dagenham context. He intelligently relates his design to the main theoretical discourse within the unit this year, making an analogy between a matrix of rooms without corridors at the domestic scale with a matrix of rooms at the urban scale.

Gideon uses the land room concept to partially enclose large fields along site drainage and property boundaries, giving spatial definition to the flat riverside flood plain. Three main territorial types are defined with these land walls: the riverside rooms on raised earth fill along the river wall; the wetland rooms laying below high tide level, and the dryer rooms adjacent to the Ford motor factory north of the new Channel Tunnel Railway line. This strategy of large land rooms is a strong spatial infrastructure that offers architectural use potential to sites for future buildings. The land rooms vary in their spatial qualities and material characteristics, due to their location - i.e. wet lowland, riverside highland, sloping dryland next to busy road and rail networks. When investigating the construction process of the earth embankments he has designed a factory building within one land room as an example of its possible occupation and use in the future.

The strength of this project lies in its making of a strong spatial connection between Dagenham and the Thames, crossing a number of large urban barriers. It is a clear argument for building the site first and the buildings later.


Tutor(s)

Dr Adam Sharr
2003
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