The British Council has revealed ten collaborative proposals to regenerate Poplar in east London
The project paired ten UK-based practices with ten visiting architects from Austria, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Nigeria, South Africa, Taiwan, Uganda, and Iran.
Participating UK outfits included muf, Karakusevic Carson, Duggan Morris and Sarah Wigglesworth.
Each team was given a different theme – such as culture, housing, nature and town centres – and asked to explore how these issues were tackled in international contexts and how this might translate to solutions for four key sites in Poplar.
British Council architecture director Vicky Richardson said: ‘It was amazing to see the breadth of thinking that had gone on in such a short space of time and the influences that each team took from around the world.
She continued: ‘As discussions surrounding immigration control in the UK intensify we hope this programme is a reminder that London has always benefited from new and international perspectives to ensure its variety and vibrancy.’
The residencies were supported by the Bow Arts Trust and the project was part of the British Council’s International Architecture Showcase for this year’s London Festival of Architecture.
The ten visions were revealed during an afternoon of events and activities inside Ernö Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower in Polar last weekend (21 June).
The ten ideas
Housing – Bromley by Bow site
DK:CM and b210 (Estonia)
As London grapples with an ever increasing housing crisis, DK:CM and b210 propose ‘Crisis Point’ a high rise tower on the banks of Lee Navigation that is inspired by the iconic Centre Point of 1963. Working with the emerging East London typology of the residential tower, this new high rise suggests an alternative way of living and working together that looks at the co-operative models from around the world.
Karakusavic Carson Architects and BCVA (Denmark)
Producing a new masterplan, Karakusavic Carson Architects and BCVA investigated the potential that this site had for unlocking under-occupied housing across the borough and looked at how it may better connect with its surroundings. With 8% of housing stock in Tower Hamlets under-occupied and with 23,500 households on the waiting list for social housing, this scheme proposes new ways that housing can be configured and plays with ideas of scale and densification in inner London.
Duggan Morris and ZAV Architects (Iran)
Working collaboratively to source ideas from around the world, Duggan Morris and ZAV Architects produced a large scale mind map of ideas for the site at Bromley-by-Bow that investigated the history and culture of the idea to propose new possible ideas for future developments.
Town Centres – Bromley-by-Bow Site
Studio TILT and MOE + (Nigeria)
Comparing and contrasting the formal and informal natures of London and Lagos, Studio TILT and MOE + took inspiration from the spontaneity found in Lagos overlaying this onto their site in Bromley by Bow andcreating a framework for a self-organising model. Allowing for invention, immediacy, interaction, perforation and unique identifiable places that allow London as a mega city to grow.
The Decorators and ISSSresearch&architecture (Austria)
Through on the ground investigation and discussions with members of the public and those running businesses in the area The Decorators and ISSSresearch&architecture looked to discover the hidden narratives of the site, unlocking what was already there and exploring how development on this site is being played out. Through this exploration a game was devised that allows participants to engage with and inform the multiple possible futures of Bromley-by-Bow.
Nature – Leven Road Gas Works
Friend & Company and Jonathan Nsubuga (Uganda)
Working on the site of the decommissioned gas works at Leven Road, Friend & Company and Jonathan Nsubuga explored ways that this area could be ‘rewilded’ building habitats for wildlife to thrive and encouraging traditional wildlife such as eels and otters back into this area of London. The gasworks were suggested as spaces for culture and activation whilst there were notions of swamping parts of the park in order to create these new habitats.
Culture – Limehouse Cut
Muf and MoVe (Chile)
Through an analysis of the ‘usable’ areas along the Limehouse Cut, Muf and MoVe suggested ways that these spaces could be used for activation linking both the left and right banks of the canal and bringing informal spectacle to the banks of this waterway. This proposal would act as a new extended civic balcony for the cut and would make space for things that at present there appears to be no room for.
Delvendahl Martin and Gaiss Architects (Latvia)
By identifying natural spaces along the Limehouse Cut that could allow for culture and exchange, Delvendahl Martin and Gaiss Architects suggested ways that through temporary interventions and an annual festival this waterway could be animated through activities and events. By designing platforms, stages and seating, people would be encouraged to engage with the water once more and gain more access to it.
Transition – Empson Street Industrial Area
Sarah Wigglesworth Architects and Kane Yanagawa (Taiwan)
Through analysing this industrial cluster, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects and Kane Yanagawa suggested the introduction of a Creative Fabrication Forum to encourage exchange amongst neighboring industrial, residential, and artist communities. By introducing an industrial arts zone that can make use of the existing trades and businesses on the site it was suggested that this area could remain industrial yet transition and evolve to a new way of working.
Natasha Reid and Urbanworks Architecture and Urbanism (South Africa)
By investigating the way transition can be negotiated Natasha Reid and Urbanworks Architecture and Urbanism suggested a new constitution that put the rights of those working on the site at the centre. A series of proposals from craft and making clusters to self-build initiatives were suggested to allow the site to remain industrial yet evolve.