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'New heart' for Dagenham to roll off Ford production line

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Four emerging practices are taking part in a project to regenerate the Ford plant site in Dagenham, Essex. In a 'unique' arrangement, Shillam + Smith, Maccreanor Lavington and Dutch practices S333 and West 8 will collaborate in the creation of their individual visions for the 80ha site.

The brief, from the Heart of Thames Gateway Partnership, asks the practices to 'explore scenarios for urban change' and 'create a new heart' for south Dagenham. They will cooperate through workshops while each develops its own regeneration strategy. It is not clear at this stage how the final design work will be allocated.

The partnership sees the project as an opportunity to 'put radical urban thinking into practice'.

Supporters include the mayor of London's architecture and urbanism unit, headed by Lord Rogers, who was present on the selection panel.

Shillam + Smith director Wendy Shillam said the arrangement marked a significant departure since the project was neither a direct competition, nor a fully integrated collaboration.

And project manager Bernadette McGuigan from Barking and Dagenham council said one of the priorities in the selection had been 'to choose European and young practitioners who have collaborated in this way in the past'.

S333 director Dominic Papa said that while the arrangement might seem uncomfortable for some UK practices, for the Dutch it was less unusual.

The strategies will be presented in April.

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