Team Representative: Mark Marshall (GB) – urbanist architect
Associates: James Daykin (GB), Francesca Crosby (BE) – architects; Pieter Ochelen (BE) – civil engineer & architect; Muriel Smeets (BE) – mechanical engineer; Wouter Bervoets (BE) – urbanist
F19 Parkhall, 40 Martell Road, London SE21 8EN (GB)
+44 203 490 1727 - firstname.lastname@example.org - daykinmarshall.com
M. Smeets, P. Ochelen, M. Marshall, J. Daykin, P. Ochelen, W.Bervoets & F. Crosby
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1. How did you form the team for the competition?
James and Mark run an architectural practice together in London, and have personal and professional connections to Francesca who works to deliver complex architectural projects in Belgium. Having decided on a site, Francesca introduced past colleagues Pieter, Muriel and Wouter to complete the team.
2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: the place of productive activities within the city?
How does an empty, long-forgotten space become a relevant and vibrant place to live and work? How do you build upon a site whilst retaining its history and 'soul'? How do you connect a significant new urban quarter with the workings of the existing city so both can benefit? These questions face all large-scale development and need to be answered in order to bring people together productively. The productive city is one that different people are instinctively drawn to, enjoy being in, and where there are multiple opportunities for living, studying and working together.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
The Thiry site, like most urban brown-field locations, has an interesting history and context. Excited by the 'garden suburb' setting, and intrigued by the lost routes of the Hoyoux river, the proposition weaves together the heritage of the site with its natural features. Reinstating missing parts of the river creates a new 'island' with a strong sense of place that is both separate from, and connected to, the physical and social networks of Huy. Important links are the views and pedestrian routes in the area and its relationship with the regional hospital and university study centres. The monumental quality, local significance and riverside setting of the brick Thiry Foundry building make it perfect for reuse as a social and economic hub to kick-start regeneration. From here various scales of workplaces and housing are proposed that complement the grain of the city, all arranged around pedestrian friendly streets reminiscent of old Huy. Buildings are designed to contain multiple functions so that working, being 'productive', is integrated into day-to-day life.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
All our projects aim to channel the historical and material context of a site into new architectural proposals. The development and its setting grow richer through the discovery and connection of all the layers that make up the place. Important references for us were old and new places in Belgium. In the city of Bruges buildings, open spaces and routes are all defined by waterways creating a beautiful townscape. In Leuven the 'De Hoorn' development has reused a brewery complex to create modern informal work spaces, events spaces, meeting spaces and an atmosphere of fun. Given the problems of contaminated land on the site we were also keen to research and incorporate bioremediation. This is the use of different plant species to naturally extract contaminants from the soil, often allowing recycling of heavy metals and the production of commercial bio-fuel crops in the process.
5. Urban-architectural projects like the ones in Europan can only be implemented together with the actors through a negotiated process and in time. How did you consider this issue in your project?
Our proposal identifies different areas of the site for development over time. This might start with the reuse of the Thiry Foundry building as a marketplace to draw people, interest and investment to the site. In liaison with the actors and instigators of the site, a sequence of new buildings can develop dependant on requirements and funding. Bioremediation of contaminated areas could be implemented in the 'meanwhile' periods to make commercial use of the sites and to naturally prepare them for construction. Options for bio-medical uses have been suggested that could be the economic stimulator for the area and should be developed in conjunction with the large regional hospital that is both a major employer and owner of the Thiry site.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
Yes, it is our first entry in the Europan competition (we may be able to make one more!). It has been an interesting exercise to test our thinking on a large-scale development site and hope it will open avenues of discussion and development.