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_Slum City (?) / Immigration Centre

Part 2 Project 2014
Kevin Woodward
University of the West of England | UK
The site is the Old Truman brewery in the Tower Hamlets Borough of London. Situated along Brick Lane, the area has long been associated with waves of immigrants relocating to London. These immigrants brought valuable skills: the Flemish immigrants in the 16th Century brought brick-making and brewing; many of the Protestant Huguenots fleeing France in the late 17th Century were silk weavers; numerous Jewish refugees fleeing Tsarist Russia in the 19th Century were tailors; the Bangladeshis arriving in the late 20th Century were skilled in Anglo-Indian cuisine.

The Truman Brewery sits on the edge of Tower Hamlets in close proximity to the City of London. The stark contrast in culture between the two boroughs is highly visible. This contrast served as the inspiration for a programme that could try to work with the positive elements of each area, creating a place that truly brings people together.

This results in the proposal for an immigration centre. The centre helps and assists immigrant cultures (a direct link to Tower Hamlets), in particular undocumented immigrants with no (legal) support network. The brief assumes a legal amnesty supported by current and previous London Mayors.
By making a group of people who are currently viewed as a drain on the economy more financially productive, and able to contribute to London’s economy, the centre also makes a direct link to the City.

This project focuses upon the housing provided by the centre. Occupants are provided with a modest dwelling, no more than the bare essentials in terms of space and servicing. These dwellings are then each set within a larger ‘shelter’ frame, which allows the units to structurally stack into a small district.

The ‘incremental’ self-build approach allows occupants to take ownership of their dwellings, and infuse it with personalised elements that celebrate their original culture. Whilst doing so, it also provides undocumented immigrants with skills, training and experience – that will ultimately lead to them assimilating into productive members of London’s society.

Kevin Woodward

Mr Jonathan Mosley

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