On 29th June 2018 Ruth Richardson wrote:

[Re]Working London: An exhibition about living with industry

This afternoon, Patricia, Riaan and I went to see the [Re]Working London exhibition hosted by Studio Egret West and We Made That, which is part of this year’s London Festival of Architecture. The exhibition was about the future of combining housing with industry, in light of the opportunities presented by the draft London Plan to create new architectural identities for industrial land – land that is commonly dominated by low density, monocultural industrial use.

The exhibition considered three key ideas:

  1. 'Intensifying industry' explored a re-emerging strategy for stacking industrial units vertically to create a compact typology which can then release land for other residential or commercial uses. Studio Egret West’s Thames Gateway corridor proposes four-storey stacked warehouses (see image below).
  1. 'Living with industry' explored opportunities for different, perhaps contradictory, uses to co-exist. Studio Egret West have developed a ‘warehouse living’ typology which they have used for projects in Hackney Wick, Fish Island and the new neighbourhoods of Eastwick and Sweetwater adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Park. This typology leases light industrial warehouses to young creatives that live and work in collectives. The local authority has created a new planning designation for warehouse living in the local plan – this is the first in London. Caxton Works in Canning Town is also an example of where 336 homes have been arranged above industrial uses.
  1. 'Industrious neighbourhood' explored the potential for creating genuinely mixed-use communities with housing placed alongside small workshops, large warehouses and distribution centres. We should strive to create places to live and work that have character and activity at all times of the day and week, and are able to evolve with changing demands and adapt to the market.

This is an important topic at present in our industry, and with various projects in the office, this exhibition was certainly valuable as we aspire to create industrial neighbourhoods with a strong sense of place and identity, and which celebrate manufacturing and productivity.