Circumstances in the Thames Estuary will change rapidly in the coming century and this urges for innovative concepts. After 2030 an entirely physical flood defence is no longer sufficient and new ways need to be found in the planning of urban developments. On the one hand side these developments should not be located in higher risk areas, but if a development is positioned in a risk area the resilience of this development needs to be extremely high. Many new developments and plans
are being produced (see also Chapter 7, Isle of Dogs and East Tilbury). The most extreme variant of building with natural processes is a floating city - Arkway (www.jafud.com/aka_welcome.html) -, an idea that is proposed for the Thames Gateway.
The Arkway project proposes to create a floating city. It is inspired by the local circumstances, where land, water and sky meet and are accomplished by the constant movement of the natural forces over time. The constant change in the world is taken as major driving force and used to connect flows and fixing points. The flows are industrial processes of reusing floating structures, are social and economic connections and are flows of natural forces. The fixing points are piers that connect existing settlements with the water-city in the Thames. These long armatures, which are formed out of assembled segments of ships, host, like ocean-liners, different usages and provide the infrastructure and shelter for smaller structures, ranging from fixed business rigs to free floating single homes. The structure as a whole adapts to all kind of changes within the city, from a yearly event to the daily tides. Making use of the water in the Thames Gateway it offers London more space eastward along the river (Fig. 3.45).
Because flooding is expected to become one of the biggest problems of the Gateways future (Fig. 3.46 shows the maximum flooded area of the Thames without protection), the floating city offers an answer by using the changing conditions and the, from time to time, available water. It builds on the edge of land and water, moving in a flexible way along with tidal changes. Thus, it meets the needs of contemporary people to stay flexible and mobile in their life-plans.
In the Thames estuary the circumstances change constantly. The edge zone of land and water creates different conditions simultaneously and natural forces manifest themselves strongly. The settlement tries to make use of the natural forces, like tidal cycles or the transition zone between land and water. These processes of building up and breaking down structures enforces constant change and create new
or lost connections. The Arkway is one a core structure in between other existing settlements in the Thames Mouth (Fig. 3.47). Water based transport connects the settlement within and to the surrounding.
While the settlement is floating it has the flexibility to reconfigure and adapt to changing conditions. The structure is in a constant process of organising, according to natural forces and inhabitant's desires. Figure 3.48 shows a still from a movie that illustrates the constant moving and reconfiguring of the floating city.
Because the structures are constructed from recycled floating structures like oil-rigs and ships the settlement introduces a new REUSE-industry to the area. A special feature is the so-called Clockbank restaurant (Fig. 3.49), which is only accessible during low tide. The special adventure is that a visit might take a little longer than expected.
The settlement is built up on the principle that every unit provides connection to the next one (Fig. 3.50) just like in Dutch canals and harbours it is normal to connect to the ship that is connected to the shore. Every next ship is connecting to its neighbour and the rule amongst the shipmen is that you are aloud to trespass the other ships in order to reach the shore. This network is used for the flow of people, goods and information. The exposed to strong forces can be answered by larger structures providing shelter for smaller ones.
In the so-called MID area industrial flows pass through. Inside the structure the connection between units provide access to the entire area. Large units form a shelter for inner basins (Fig. 3.51).
The use of space needs to be carefully designed, not wasting any valuable and scarce space. Some spaces may be used during the week for different purposes. A dry-dock can be used for a match of soccer when vacant (Fig. 3.52).
The constant changing environment configures the floating city differently. Different settlements are connected to certain locations (Fig. 3.53), but may change the way they are organised from day to day.
The example of the Thames Gateway shows a range of solutions that are possible in a tidal landscape that has to deal with an increasing rise of the sea level. Three ways of adapting to the changes are presented here and they differ a lot.
The Thames Barrier is a technical solution to withstand storm surges and to protect the city of London.
The delivery plan for the Thames Gateway illustrates that a subtle integration of tidal influences with urban developments may lead to inspiration for the spatial quality of the urban environment. In this respect it can be compared with the Hafencity development in Hamburg.
The Arkway plan needs to be seen as an experimental design, which turns around existing views of protection and dealing with water. The example shows an alternative view, because it uses the dynamics of the tidal system and bases the urban developments upon it. The flows and tidal differences create the patterns in the urban structures and like connected ships the city is moving along with the changes in tides and seasons.
Not one approach tackles flood problems completely. It would be appropriate if a region combines the three approaches. Developing high technological standards in case heavy protection is required, at the same time integrating water in the daily life of the urban population and transform water from a threat into a quality and find space for experiments in which a sub-cultural lifestyle can be explored and maybe delivers solutions for problems that are not known yet.
In August 2005 hurricane Katrina (Fig. 3.54) hit Louisiana. 80% of New Orleans was flooded and many homes were destroyed. This event marked a fundamental change in thinking about coastal protection.
Fig. 3.54 Hurricane Katrina from the air (Source: LACPR, 2007)
Fig. 3.54 Hurricane Katrina from the air (Source: LACPR, 2007)
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