Bridgewater

Compiled apartment block at Millenium Park, Stratford, London

The urban dynamics around the Bridgewater site are considerable. The site itself appears isolated by infrastructure and Waterworks River. Little consistency can be found in the new architecture around Millennium Park. Even within the separate estates a high level of differentiation is the rule. The required new housing puts new pressure to the site.

All this seems to confirm the notion of the Insular City as forwarded by the German theorist O.M. Ungers in the 1970-ies. He believed that urban consistency in today’s city is only possible at the level of the estate. He argued for the Groβform, meaning something like Superblock. Ungers did not actually proposed to build monolithic urban ensembles, but rather ensembles possessing a strong internal order, whilst forming clear urban gestures to its surroundings. London examples include Queens Club Gardens, where repetitive housing forms a neighbourhood park.

The insular quality of Bridgewater can be turned into a strength. A well-defined urban form, constitutes the Groβform in which as many as possible houses offer views to the Waterworks River with new designed borders and quays. The same Groβform shapes intimate urban spaces, offering quietness and calm, interconnected piazzas to withdraw from hectic metropolitan life. That introspective world is car-free The Groβform consists of a two-storey plinth with a uniform language, designed by HvdHA as lead architect of Bridgewater. Together with the 2nd to 4th storey the major part of the brief can be realised (55%). The Groβform is subdivided in separated parts, all of which are designed by a different architects practice within the scheme. They will work with a shared architectural palette but will design and negotiate the layout and volumetrics of the buildings autonomously with the stakeholders involved. The objective is a homogeneous, but varied ensemble.

Designed with Karin Templin, Smith & Taylor en Haworth Tompkins.