Part disused landfill site, part former sewage works, a haphazard pocket of open space in Woodford - part of the London Development Agency's 'East London Green Grid' - is transformed by the placement of a crematorium, columbarium and cemetery into a memorial park and nature reserve. Here the dead can linger in the minds of the living amidst the wildflower meadows of a fertile yet previously severed piece of river valley that once again becomes responsive to the ebb and flow of the seasons. By heightening an awareness of natural cycles and of the fragile beauty of these beguiling urban landscapes, their potential as valuable open space and as a constantly renewable resource within the repetitively sprawling suburban fabric is brought to the fore.
The settings for these new proposals articulate a journey taking the visitor from city to nature, grief to reconciliation, public to private, with the building sitting in the landscape as a threshold between these states and redefining a connection between the city and this liminal place. The experience is of a sequence of poetic settings articulated by light, texture and space, settings which appeal to commonly held experiences and which mark episodes on a journey - conceptually a journey through the forest of which the building forms an edge. The funerary chapel, with its translucent, reflective surfaces and light descending to the sunken catafalque - a 'clearing in the forest' - marks the pivotal moment on this journey where public remembrance turns into private grief before the landscape offers itself as a reconciliatory tonic.
Images from Helen's project:
The City of London has always been spectacularly diverse, ancient and atomised – shaped by capital flow and Roman city planning; by medieval religiosity and 19th-century rationality. We have used this year's incursion into the past lives of the City to offer a diverse and polemic vision of the City's future.
This year Unit 4 studied the use and misuse of London streets on sites along the Whitechapel Road and its continuation along Fenchurch Street into the City. We examined the impact of the City, its ancient boundary at Aldgate, on the notion of 'High Street'. We focused on public gatherings and examined recorded events spread over 2,000 years – mundane and radical, everyday and exceptional – which have shaped this part of London.
These visits expanded our view of what is possible in the street; what the street is for; how shifts in the role and expectations of the street have mirrored social and urban transformations. This research led to projects which shape new fragments of public space within the city, establishing new spaces for public gatherings. These proposals move beyond the framing of particular events into a more nebulous yet more potent challenge to increasingly corporate, policed and deterministic public spaces. The projects provide for developing constituencies to declare their involvement in the public realm.
Images from the project:
Paolo Scianna was named as one of Building Design's Class of 2009, one of just six graduating students in the UK. Every architecture school in the UK is asked to nominate their best students for consideration by the panel of industry experts. The School of Architecture and Landscape in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture put forward Paolo with his design for the University for the Built Environment in Croydon.
All of the students on Paolo's course were asked to develop a project in the urban setting of Croydon in south London. His scheme remodels an existing shopping centre to create a university that would bring together training for architects, planners and engineers. Paolo took his inspiration from Ligorio's Villa Pia in Rome.
Images from Paolo's project: