Studio 11: Defending Dover
With Andrew Lane BA Architecture Unit, Brighton University
Studio 11 explores Dover as a gateway and place of defence. It’s strategic position has resulted in a layering of military landscapes. There is a disparity between this rich heritage, patriotic iconography and the drab reality of the town today.
Our studio looks at setting a new community set within the Western Heights Fortifications. These crumbling defences are re-imagined to sustain farming and provide a productive landscape for us to inhabit. We begin to question the relationship of these new communities with the town below and also with the existing Immigration Removal Centre currently housed in the old Citadel. How do we re-appropriate the site for the 21st century? How do we insert and inject new functions? What do we choose to preserve, demolish or return to nature?
Many new, so called, communities are driven by property developer agendas or Local Authority objectives to relieve social housing demands, but rarely, if ever, are major collections of buildings, public spaces and places established by an existing community. In this century, with peak oil production long gone, people are likely to travel less and it might not be too radical to consider people living in a much smaller self-sufficient micro world, but with global electronic communication still available. How could this effect the physical built environment? Place making is complex: Cultural identity, vernacular buildings, lifetime homes, multi-culturalism, social cohesion, are all relevant and not easily coped with by architects and urban planners. This mighty challenge is explored by our Studio this year.
The final proposals are played out across the Western Heights within new imagined masterplan contexts. Some provisions are small and site-specific interventions, while others radically alter the urban fabric of the Heights. Programmatically the proposals all aim to create places of exchange. We introduce conflicting functions and typologies to cross programme and clash unexpected uses and users in a playful manner - to enliven, excite and re-engage.
Programmes respond to the town’s contemporary issues, including immigration and the mixing of permanent and transient communities. Themes include defence and strategic space, boundaries, new and old, preservation and decay, urbanism and 21st century self-sufficient community models – a layering of landscape, ruins and farming set on the white cliffs of Dover.