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Suburban Remainder: Decoding/Recoding Ashford's Forgotten Territories

Part 2 Project 2013
Julian Seagars
University for the Creative Arts Canterbury UK
'Suburban Remainder' is set in and around the Stanhope estate in Ashford, Kent. Built as overspill housing in the 1960s, decades of successive residential developments have led to a generic ‘grey mass' of mono-functional communities, characterised by physical and economic disconnectedness. Stigmatised by dysfunction and banality, large territories of an insular and deprived nature are either forgotten, or deliberately neglected in the official visions for Ashford’s future as presented in current masterplan strategies. The thesis refocuses the attention on these neighbourhoods, which are off the radar of the urban discourse.

Analysing the demographic, built and functional patterns of Stanhope and its suburban adjacencies, the project identifies specific moments within the existing socio-typological field and speculates about the potential to subvert and augment the conventions of the public realm. It sets out to reinvigorate and catalyse civic activities in communities that otherwise would continue to decline.

Three so-called ‘Oddments’ are proposed to animate their immediate contexts. Defined as ‘remnants typically left over from a larger piece or set’ the oddments work with the local conditions as found. Materially and temporally adaptable the interventions are not defined by their permanence, instead responding specifically to the spatial and programmatic necessities and resources of their respective sites.

‘A Pier Appears’
A former brick pit, now a members-only fishing lake, currently halts the circulation of the surrounding areas as streets lead to nowhere. During the fishing 'off season' a series of piers gesturally completes the disjointed urban network and gives access to a pleasurable boating lake.

‘Over the Garage Fence’
A kinetic fence of recycled garage doors provides an adaptable edge condition that negotiates the hard barrier between private and public, offering a newly defined space of communal activity, bucolic proximity and neighbourliness.

‘Backfire’
Architectural extrusions from the 1960s Radburn housing typologies provide new spaces for civic programmes. Reaching a critical mass of occupation, activities backfire into the currently underused public open space.

Critical and whimsical at the same time, all interventions promote social and spatial change and provoke a new debate about the deficiencies and potentials of suburbia.

Julian Seagars

Tutor(s)

2013
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