Regenerative Connectivity – Juxtaposed



1)             Thesis

In modern society long-haul travel is accepted as a norm of everyday life.  Economic prosperity within the UK as a trading Nation, and London as a world centre for business and finance, depends on connectivity with a comprehensive network of other cities throughout the world.

However London’s status as global city within Europe, and the wider world, is being challenged by emerging and established economies that are developing infrastructures that place London’s economic prosperity at risk. To maintain regional prosperity the UK government recognises the need for increased global connectivity, however the economic and social benefits of our interconnected trans-border state need to be balanced against the significant environmental and social problems associated with the construction of such large infrastructures.

Concurrently, it is widely accepted that London needs to accommodate an increase in population of approximately 2 million inhabitants over the next 50 years, if the UK’s economic position in the world is to be maintained.

The Thames gateway is seen as the obvious location for urban expansion on such a significant scale. However serious environmental and social obstacles need to be overcome to attract investment, and new communities, to an area which is widely perceived as the degrading engine room to an extinct 19th century industrial economy.

To do this the UK government has designated the area an “Eco region”, establishing a spatial framework that restores the Landscape or “First Infrastructure” of the Thames Estuary. This Eco-region is intended to rebalance the socially and economically deprived local economy by creating a highly skilled workforce that exports environmentally sustainable technology and intellectual capital.

However, this eco-region would seemingly be at odds with the simultaneous proposals to develop a large international transport hub in the area. The project intends to reconcile the two opposing propositions by looking at the existing proposals for both the eco-region and airport hub and to develop an architectural master-plan that will provide mixed use development and infrastructure that fulfils the aspirations for an eco-region.

2)             Hypothesis

The overarching objective for the project will be to envisage ways in which communities can be built around highly connected infrastructures within a sustainable and regenerative framework.  Whilst the development of Eco-cities around the world attempt to address local issues of carbon and embodied energy little is being done to develop communities that can transverse the globe utilising efficient sustainable inter-continental transport systems.


The project agenda will be to develop a sustainable urban prototype around the transport hub of today with the flexibility to integrate the infrastructures of the near future. The project will explore technology as a means to instigate social and economic change in an area of environmental and social degradation with the aim of facilitating the concept of regenerative architecture.

The project is an interrogation of how cities are not only connected but also a critique of the interface between infrastructure and urban realm and will look at the ways that a major piece of often extra-terrestrial infrastructure can be integrated into local community and urban fabric.


3)             Methodology


The project will interrogate the “Parklands Vision” currently proposed for the Thames Eco-region whilst simultaneously critiquing the various proposals for an airport hub on the Isles of grain.


The project will investigate what long distance transportation is and the ways in which it is achieved in modern day society. It will look at the way interconnectivity of urban centres is achieved and the role that both physical and ethereal infrastructure has on rebalancing economies in today’s global market place.


The aim will be to assess what circulation actually means in modern society and to investigate the social, political, environmental, economic and cultural benefits and problems associated with building large transport hubs by reviewing historical and current precedent.


The project will take the current airport hub proposal as the platform on which to develop a sustainable “eco-community” around regenerative principles. The mixed-use development will be in close proximity to the airport and will need to overcome the social barriers and environmental problems introduced by development of a 55sq Km transport hub.


The project will adopt regenerative principles by developing an economic framework concentrated around the evolution of sustainable “eco” building techniques that will be adopted on the construction of both the urban community and the airport and its supporting infrastructure. The development of such technologies will focus on reinvigorating the local economy and generating an export market of skills and technology directly adjacent to a major transportation hub thus facilitating connectivity to global markets.


The proposal will explore the layers of connectivity between the high velocity trans-continental traveller exploiting the hub and the local commuter utilising the newly constructed infrastructures. The deployment of such infrastructures will be interrogated to ensure that they do not become items of social and environment division.


Whilst it is intended that the project will not involve the design of the airport, the project will incorporate potential changes that could be made to it to harness benefits for the local environmental and housing framework. The project will also review the potential for a paradigm shift away from air-travel in the near future, especially with regard to intra-continental travel and how this may be facilitated in the design of the airport, infrastructure and community.


4)                Anticipated Outcomes

The anticipated project outcome is development of an urban typology that integrates international interconnectivity with local social cohesion, based on environmentally regenerative design.


The project will be both a physical proposal for the technology of the current, as-well as a framework for future development in the light of technological evolution and climate change.


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