Estuary Urbanism

A couple of highlights (perhaps the only ones) of a small presentation I did at the RCA this week on the Thames Gateway.

The basic premise was arguing for some kind of vision which could make sense of the bureaucratic demand for 30 – 500 000 new houses in the area. And that this vision should come out of something specific to the site – in this case Estuary English. This is the most modern, attractive and influential accent in Britain. It is spreading across the UK from its heartland by the banks of the Thames. It is a modern kind of accent - blurring geography and class, the things that accents are usually all about.

What would happen if you applied these characteristics to planning? It would be a strategy you might call Estuary Urbanism.

This would be a place where scale, use and distinctions between metropolitan, suburban and rural would blur and juxtapose.

Here is an animation (running a little jerkily on my ibook):

And here are some pictures:


And some sketches:


Posted by sam at April 27, 2006 5:21 PM


I'm currently interested in conglommerate architecture. looking at how seemingly parasitic juxtaposition can produce a relationship that can be more sensitive to the existing non-architecturally driven built environment, almost in a dirty realist fashion. Your sketches above speak to me of a similiar direction. Is there any tips, ideas, material, etc. that you would suggest i take a look at???

Posted by: jason on May 8, 2006 3:11 AM

Jason -

Perhaps you could attach a video camera to the bonnet of your car and film a trip along the North Circular Road. Then watch the resulting film on fast forward. All night long. The next day, you should hang out at the Tower of London for a bit of historicial dirty realism. You should be good to go after all that.


Posted by: sam on May 9, 2006 1:54 PM

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