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A Beacon for Stratford Island

Part 1 Project 2013
Araminta Sainsbury
University of Cambridge, UK
A 1960’s gyratory road system intended to improve connections across London has confined an area of Stratford, preventing it from expanding and isolating it from its immediate surroundings. The master plan attempts to celebrate this island nature, harbouring activity in the centre of the site whilst strengthening the gateway points onto the island. The dense mass of buildings that currently exists is opened up allowing for a hierarchy of routes and connections to permeate across the island.

The Arts Centre acts as a marker for the public space in the centre of the island. Its height gives the building prominence and draws visitors over from the station as well as inviting in the local communities from Stratford. Providing space for a variety of users informed the decision for the physical separation of the gallery and the community studios. The monolithic precast concrete facades give prominence to the entrance and act as a backdrop for activity in the public space that addresses the building. A change in materiality defines the front elevation from the rest of the brick walls. An internal street divides the Arts Centre and provides the entrances to the gallery spaces, café, gift shop, community workshops and artists’ studios.

Imagining how people would move between the sequences of gallery spaces informed the design. Light draws visitors along their journey up through the tower. They enter into a darker space at ground level but gradually climb up the tower between rooms that increase in height and luminosity. The rhythm of the exposed concrete roof beams remains constant throughout the building, which emphasises the arrival at the top room where light pours down between the deep beams giving the impression that the top of the building has been peeled off. The stairs are embedded in the walls, tunnelling through the mass of the building towards the lighter space above.

Araminta Sainsbury

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2013
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