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James Clark — Public Holder

Greenway view — the typical site sits in the intersection between communities, between a denser part of the city in Stratford, and a lower density suburban area in West Ham.

Public Holder — An infrastructural approach to reclaiming public land and public services on vacant post-gas holder sites. By James Clark.

 

Location

Former Gasworks Site – Abbey Lane, Stratford, London Borough of Newham

 

Objective

A mixed-use, flexible, community building which challenges existing approaches to repurposing vacant post-gas holder sites.

 

Motivation

In a society which relied upon coal gas we created a standardised Victorian architecture that did not hold people but only services – the gas holder. The National Grid is dismantling these exoskeletons and selling sites to developers cheaply, often leading to homogenous private schemes that simulate a circular gasholder form.

 

Strategy

Rather than merely simulating a gas holder’s aesthetic, this project retains the public service and infrastructural quality of the gas holder’s architecture. The proposal is a single organism within a surrounding public park. Held up by two cores on either side, the infrastructure protects the ground plane below for public recreational use. The infrastructure has structureless, cantilevered floor plates for interchangeable mixed-community programmes.

 

Impact

The National Grid owns over 500 post-gasworks sites in the UK and over 70 sites in London. This site strategy is, therefore, a prototype for significant replication.

 

Public Holder Infrastructure
Site Ground Plan – A stepped landscape extends from the greenway with a synthetic rubber floor finish which rolls out through the site like a carpet. Trees surround the site as a forest and are planted over the carpark with fewer cars and car parks used in years to come.
Axonometric view — the floor plates can accommodate mixed-use community programmes such as cafés, a learning centre, a school, business spaces, hydroponics, a swimming pool, a hostel.
Ground view —  the floodlit 10m high ground floor is used all year round and after work for outdoor sports with tennis courts, football pitches, basketball, netball courts, responding to the lack of outdoor leisure space in the city.
Lobby view — glass lobbies with limestone floor tiling and grand staircases lead the user through and around the cores.
Flexible plan — a variety of different spaces can be reconfigured accordingly where users can rent and adapt spaces over time, because I imagine this project of being implemented in more than one site and I cannot fully predict whatever the communities needs will be today, a month or in two years.
Atrium view — exposed finishes of concrete, steel, steel decking and glass allow for a light shell and core. Secondary steel elements and staircases indicate a domesticity to the circulation around the building. Partitions and semi-transparent curtains act as programme boundaries.
Roof view — the roof can accommodate a playground and an external classroom to the school below.
Roof view — the public realm is elevated to the roof with public functions like an open-air public cinema and community allotment beds with views to the city.
Unlocking site — the public holder is an infrastructural solution to giving back public land and public services back to local residents.

 

 

 

Further work 

Contact details