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Metropolitan Living and Learning

Part 1 Project 2011
Shaun Huddleston
University of Portsmouth Portsmouth UK
As the urban population grows so too do the issues associated with transportation. Whilst it might seem beneficial to push for a future that sees our cities free from cars, it is perhaps more pertinent to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to enable a positive change in habit – who can seriously envisage a future without man’s four-wheeled best friend? With a brief that engaged with urban theory, challenged with a tough schedule of accommodation and offered one of the most interesting sites in London, Potters Field, the bigger picture could have been missed. However, site analysis revealed an opportunity to ‘reconcile’ a series of opposing forces and I envisaged an architecture that focused on facilitating movement.

A parti emerged to separate the urban traffic in section and focus movement in plan. The ‘Learning Hub’ (one component stipulated but undefined by the brief) became the heart of the architecture. Its upper levels with their central atria voids gave views down onto the main public space and beyond into the public car park and bus terminal. The modes and routes of the commuter became the arteries of the complex: Cyclists were given the ground to navigate from north to south. Busses arrived and departed beneath the ground with the car park levels. The humble pedestrian was elevated via a series of walkways that connected Tower Bridge with a public square and steps to Tooley Street and out to the Thames.

Fascination with the concept of London’s ‘Congestion Zone’ sparked an idea that the edge could be scattered with similar ‘transport infrastructure’. Rather than eliminate car access to London, this urban strategy suggests pieces of infrastructure could maximise transport links to car park facilities that encourage car sharing and green technologies – prepaid electric ‘Boris Cars’. Why put ‘just’ a park, offices, shops, learning hub and apartments here when you can help the city to breath a little more? Perhaps all developments around this zone should consider these issues – how might the country change if all people had access to a temporary car?

Shaun Huddleston


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