James Kirk Architecture
© James Kirk 2010-2016
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A Productive Landscape for the Lower Lea Valley

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The basis of this proposal is that the Lower Lea Valley is a suitable and appropriate testing ground for a new Architecture and Urbanism equivalent to that of Manhattan, but with 21st Century concerns and aspirations.

My proposal is a re-forested Lower Lea Valley Park stretching from Bow Creek in the South, through Three Mills and the Stratford Site, to the Hackney and Walthamstow Marshes. - An architectural vision in contrast to the carbon heavy construction of the Olympic Park and its associated developments. A gridded timber plantation, and architectural testing ground for a new sustainable timber architecture influenced by the aspirations of Manhattan, but counter to its architectural culture.

Buildings will be a sustainable system of makeshift architecture, with a lifespan and specific use, initially my proposal is that they are formed from prefabricated solid timber units. After their useful life, they will be deconstructed. Trees will be grown to their useful life, and used in the construction.

[As a typology of making, to the Western mindset the word ‘makeshift’ has connotations of improvisation and convenience, a making-do until there is time or money, or a change of circumstance, to permit a proper realisation […] It implies something inherently less than fit for purpose[…] something that can assume the role of a proxy, […]thrown together with materials that are to hand, where the quality of its realisation is less important that would ordinarily be acceptable. […] What I want to put forward here with reference to Japanese aesthetic precepts, is a rereading of makeshift that establishes a different perception of the term, one less defined by its limitations, and better able to capture all of the positive qualities associated with the temporary, the impermanent, the imperfect, the irregular, the perishable(AD - Design Through Making, edited by Bob Sheil. Article : Makeshift by Sarah Chaplin, p 78)

A process for making this urbanism has been defined. A forest grown on a grid of pathways and access routes planted along the length of the wider site will make up the original site plan, and form the first phase of the architectural proposal. Following this the first fast growing trees are felled from which emerges a school of joinery and construction, and small homes throughout the site for foresters to maintain the trees. Following this, homes will be built on the site, and a community developed, within the forest. The centre of the industry, with easy access to the canal transportation routes that will move the raw materials for construction around the wider site. After the fast growing trees have been felled, the slower growing English woodland trees will grow, and a community emerge within them.

From here a new infrastructure and architecture is developed, and a testing ground for architecture promoted whose questions are permanence, landmark architecture, methods of achieving sustainability, and a discourse on the professional/craftsman relationship.

The project represents the process for making this urbanism, and hints at the architectural future of the site.

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James Kirk Architecture
© James Kirk 2010-2016
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