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Margate Integration Centre

Part 2 Project 2010
Robert Elkins
University of Kent, UK
The scheme takes a new look at the United Kingdom’s Immigration system, aiming to make it fairer for those who come to this country looking for solace and safety yet find only discrimination and beaurocracy. It strives to provide a quality of living that will surpass Margate’s present idiom, yielding a sustainable future not only for those in the Centre but also for the existing community it sits within. Micro finance could allow new residents to take small loans to personalise their individual units, simultaneously encouraging them to support themselves financially, and give them a sense of belonging to the group. The residential units are clad in a unifying façade-system, which creates a group aesthetic linking those living in the scheme, and giving the centre of Margate a renewed sense of place as a whole. The traditional relationship between private and public was rejected, at least in the horizontal sense, in favour of an openness, which removed physical boundaries and attempts to re-conciliate social equality and alienation in equal measure.

Perspective views with imagery that playfully jibes at commercial advertising are used to play on society’s sense of self-identity and question humanity’s underlying traits when it comes to accommodating others.

To say that sustainability and environmental design were intrinsic in this scheme is an understatement, every design decision commencing with the initial brief development has been considered in terms of closing waste-cycles, minimizing life-time and construction-based energy usage, mixing uses and designing original solutions to the unique problems and opportunities available in differing aspects of the scheme.

For the lower part of the site, softness was needed to allow users to feel removed from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. Here I chose to study the archetype of the surrounding ‘backs of buildings’ as a means of creating spaces that allowed significant frontage to the public realm whilst retaining the unique identity and originality of each element in the scheme.

Robert Elkins

Our nominee’s final year thesis project develops a political idealology that sees economic migrants and asylum seekers as a benign symptom of our national values, to be celebrated and welcomed not derided and rejected. The context of Margate is apposite here as it and its neighbour, Cliftonville, have become sink-towns for several distant UK local authorities who have contracted with private landlords to commute their regionally assigned quote of migrants to the area in exchange for council rent-benefit monies.
A post-seaside holiday era ghettoization results in a town with too many Edwardian boarding houses and less-than healthy economic and educational achievement indicators.
You can infer references to Cedric Price, Archigram, the altered utopias of graphic novels and the detritus of the ‘everyday’ in the resultant proposals for an Integration Centre. Here idealology informs the architecture and attempts to find form for individual identity within a necessarily intergrated whole. Build form is represented which acknowledges physical as well as economic and social context. The result is an architectural manifesto which conflates urban and architectural sensibilities for permeability and identity with social and anthropological ones.
The results are challenging, provocative and inherently political, but there is a consistency in this work which rewards closer viewing. Individually collaged and montage together, acknowledged through the crafting of the drawings, the aspiration id that the resultant community accommodates the social changes that it encourages, rendering itself eventually redundant. But this would be itself a success.


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