Sediment City

Architecture Undergraduate Design Unit at Greenwich University

University of Greenwich, London

Type: Teaching and Learning
Client: ALL Design
Contract Value: undisclosed
Status: We are now teaching elsewhere
Collaboration: Marcos Rosello, George Wade, Nasios Varnavas

“Sediment is a naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particles.”

Unit 1 sought to examine the city’s soft edges, the in between places occupied in ways unplanned by the architects or developers. Entropy, time and speed have an intangible effect on the city’s soft edges and we explored diferent ways of making these elements visible. We put the urban grain under the microscope and analysed the meanwhile uses and additions that were never planned.

‘Meanwhile’ was understood as a spatial expression in the city for spaces that are: rogue, in transition, forgotten, unplanned, spontaneous, bottom-up, intentionally slow, temporary, secret, hidden, blurry, disordered, changing and renegade. The sedimentary city was a conceptual subject difficult to explore. We used geology as a medium for understanding the process of weathering, erosion and entropy and as our tool for experimentation.

We saw this evolving cityscape as something to be studied through a series of projects we referred to as ‘processes’. These processes took many forms through the year, such as:

• drawing and modelling
• visits to artists studios
• walks through gentrified areas in London
• exploring different ways of mapping urban narrative
• using Storytelling and craft to communicate narratives
• workshops on making exploded drawings that analyse how tectonics come together

We also undertook a research trip to Athens. There we studied the juxtaposition of priceless artifacts with economic disparity. We explored how artefacts tell stories of the context from wherein they emerge, as an amalgam of information passed on from generation to generation similar to the way strata is formed in the natural environment. The process of crafting an urban artifact helped students develop a language/technique, starting from very basic massing models, and working intuitively/systematically towards more resolution.

Our site in London was at Convoys Wharf in Deptford. This site has a long history of meanwhile uses dating back 500 years. A master plan for 3500 homes has been approved and Unit 1 studied the proposal whilst making a critique of it. A residential development should be more than a series of homes.

As a Unit, Sediment City collectively resulted in a counterculture movement that became part of the ongoing debate about cities, and London, today.

With : Umuhan Cali, Daniela Yaneva, Svetoslava Ileva, Silvia Miah, Gloria Ilieva, Ioana Radulescu, Ela Yeter, Zeynep Didar Ceren, Anastasija Kostileva, Rebecca Price, Ricardo Bela, Ana Maria Ciubuc, Effrosyni Chatzisavva, Alexandros Koutougias, Oana Holomei