A Dynamic Masterplan for Enabling the Tilbury Commons
Utilising Kate Macintosh’s Dawson’s Heights in East Dulwich as a catalyst for studying housing and the notion of Utopia, the theoretical mindscape of the thesis project is established through initial readings into Theodor Adorno, who suggests that “Even if one cannot draw a blueprint for utopia, aware-ness of the inadequacy or incompleteness of existing reality depends utterly on belief in the possibility of an alternative” (Adorno, 33).
Through an investigation into the multiplicity of “Utopias” that could arise on site, a participatory device that engages with local residents and actors on designing and co-producing these incomplete, and envisioned futures was developed. Taking the form of a collapsible toolkit, it was first tested at Dawson’s Heights to (co)produce responses to speculative reimagining of the estate. Having developed a working methodology in engagement practice, we move to the Bata Estate in East Tilbury, a radical company town which was once at the forefront of live-work relations and modernist construction which has fallen into a state of precariousness and deprivation since the shuttering of Bata Shoes. Through the toolkit, a catalogue of resident’s memories and ambitions for East Tilbury were developed, where the written Thesis develops this into a pluralistic mode of participation that enables multiplicity in urban ambitions and “utopias” to be made visible. As part of a symbiotic discussion, this in-situ research that underpins the development of the New Doggerland was shared with the community to allocate Heritage Funding for their Bata Memories Centre.
Acknowledging the socio-ecological crises that are resultant of our extreme consumption and resource extraction, a dynamic, reactionary and arguably incomplete “master” plan is proposed… Instead of working against the forces of nature, the comm(o)nity of East Tilbury has long sought to return to a nomadic way of life, forgoing the rampant pressures and excess of the neoliberal city for something more attuned; living with (and not against) the land. Re-turning to principles of the historic commons, their settlement has been designed with the foresight of adapting to change in both land and waterscapes, where the dynamic (master)plan is built across time, seasons and tides to speculate with new forms of living. The riverbank has receded, but unlike predictions in the early 21st Century, the Thames has been deliberately widened as a catalyst. Developing from an initial afforestation of the marshland ecology, a soft system for the production of the commons began, fifty years ago, as a series of ponds, forests, polders and waterways to seed the New Doggerland of today. Driven by the historical principles in Commoning – Of Piscary, Of Estovers and In The Soil, living with the community involves a new relationship to the water/land through seasonal consumption of agriculture and stewardship of the river and forestery – as examples. Learning from Bata’s preconstructed components, the New Doggerland is expanded through a “Common Language”, where moulds and materials are re-used to expand, or decrease spaces according to the population, needs, tidal ecology and environment. Simultaneously safeguarding the historic Bata Estate further inland, the common contemplates on an approach to architecture that is post-compositional, reactionary and embedded within our larger ecological systems, contributing beyond the wellbeing of its inhabitants, but the habitat(s) of the Estuary. Instead of building from (and against) the water, flooding becomes an opportunity – to re-arrange and expand commons living across the Thames to Coastal England.
Tollesbury Monitoring Station, Essex
Essex Caravansarai, Basildon
In response to the failing and tragic conception of the ‘New Town Utopia’ Basildon, Essex Caravanserai aims to offer a new radical strategy for living in Essex. As a result of the proposed and drastic demolition of the lost 1950s vision for a new and radical Basildon Town Centre, The Essex Caravanserai project aims to oppose but make use of the intensely over-designed regeneration scheme of Basildon Council through recycling material of the decanted sites and advertising a solution to the throwaway attitude of society endorsed by the council through a highly sustainable and self-sufficient living scheme using and promoting earth as a means of construction.
The most radical of all the test-bed experiments of Essex, Basil-don has fallen into decline with staggering statistics baring the lowest figures for living satisfaction in the country, undoubtedly due to the widespread serious deprivation which has entailed high levels of crime, teenage pregnancies and likely caused con-tribute to an astounding 26.6% of residents having no qualifications.
The Essex Caravanserai project aims to provide new qualifications in new building techniques to the under-qualified populous of Essex in exchange for their work in developing and exhibiting living, built using the council’s provision of a core of essentials which sits harmoniously in the landscape of New Town Basildon. Residents will use this newly developed excavation-extruder de-vice to form elements made of earth and recycled concrete, put together in a variety of combinations to form their own Essex Caravanserai. This will evolve across Essex through the trade of extruder devices, from small scale production of possessions on sale at the Caravanserai markets to larger-scale production of elements for living for sale across councils.
Dagenham Working Men’s Club
Ford Smart Home in Dagenham, Essex
The Diggers Festival of Peace, Essex
Ganesh Chaturthi Festival 2025 in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
Unlocking land in the Greenbelt surrounding London.
Climatic Cloud City
‘Microclimate’ is the micro perspective of climatology and has a continuous and constant impact on hu-man settlements. ‘Climatic Clouding City’ summarizes the basic concept of microclimates, and what constitutes their basic elements in order to explore the relative relationship of each element in an urban environment. Through the field investigation and research of East Tilbury, the corresponding de-sign viewpoint of optimized microclimates in the design project ‘Climatic Clouding City’ is concluded.
‘Climatic Clouding City‘ is aiming to own the weather within the city by manipulating primary micro-climate factors, such as solar radiation, temperature, humidity and wind. Whilst promoting the contexts of living and working space together, it uses Bata town as the prototype for this new living pattern. In ‘Climatic Clouding City’, each type of service system will require disparate environmental conditions or provide different types of climatic environments. To some extent, ‘Pump House’, ‘Palace of Electricity’, ‘Casino of Making’, ‘Green Village’ and ‘Spring House’ all present different service systems. Moreover, in order to design these services, microclimate factors are the essential simulate and analysis direction of the project. Therefore, the adaptability of the climatic environment will assume a central role in the city planning in 2090, which will be positioned under the theme of addressing the effect of the ‘heat island’ and ‘climate change’.
The Bata Town Toolkit