But is it working against the odds?
London’s industrial land is vanishing at an accelerating rate—even though demand for work space is rising. How can we stop the housing crisis being followed by a work space crisis?
London Works was a student competition to design a future-proof model for industrial uses, in a real place and with a real client.
It challenged participants to develop a vision for productive quarters not as mere utilitarian appendices, but as integrated parts of new and existing London neighbourhoods.
How can work space be part of new use mixes at increased densities? How can work space be part of what it takes to create a sustainable community? How can work space positively contribute to a sense of place within the wider neighbourhood?
The London Works competition was asking participants to respond to the challenges facing industrial space in London, the site given was Nathan Way, Thamesmead.
Responses were submitted by groups and individuals of seven different London schools of architecture, who -each with their own strengths- took on an urgent and hugely complex topic: some observers now predict that London will start to run out of industrial space at the beginning of next year, and the judges commended the competition as a waking up call to the issue, and the students for grappling with a topic that the profession has neglected for too long.
The entries are promoting workspace as valuable and essential part of London, and are suggesting ways to retain industrial uses whilst creating change. Submissions addressed a wide range of topics incl land value, densification, identity, and connections into the wider neighbourhood. The winning design shows a sophisticated exploration of a mixed use programme of different types of industrial, residential and educational spaces, and proposes an innovative ownership structure and an incremental implementation programme, all of which start to suggest pieces of policy.
The public jury demonstrated how valuable student work is for opening up conversations about potential ways to make change happen, about how best to experiment further, and how to promote ambition in the difficult territories of seemingly conflicting urgent agendas.
1st Prize (£1,000)
by Katrina Duncan, Lisa McDanell & Robin Chatwin
The London School of Architecture
2nd Prize (£750)
by Gemma Holyoak, Jamie Hignett & Joseph Hamblin
Central Saint Martins & The London School of Architecture
3rd Prize (£500)
by Corina Tuna & Carlotta Conte
Nathan Way provides important employment opportunities for local residents, and houses a range of industrial uses, including storage, distribution, and food production, interspersed with a community centre, a church, and a nursery. The site is bounded by the Ridgeway, a raised walkway on top of the Southern Outfall Sewer to the south, HM Prison Belmarsh to the north, and a designated Housing Zone to the west.
To the east is the New Town of Thamesmead, featured in popular culture for example as a setting for the film Clockwork Orange. The area is again undergoing dramatic transformation: From December 2018, the Elizabeth line (formerly known as Crossrail) will serve Abbey Wood on the doorstep of Thamesmead. This will halve journey times into central London and act as catalyst for redevelopment of the area, attracting new visitors, businesses and residents.
When Peabody acquired Gallions, Trust Thamesmead and Tilfen Land in 2014, it meant housing, community investment and over 200 acres of developable land in Thamesmead became owned by a single organisation for the first time in a generation. Last year, Peabody announced its proposals for a £1bn regeneration programme for Thamesmead over the next ten years, which has helped to push Thamesmead into the top regeneration projects in the UK.
Your task is to develop a vision for Nathan Way as an integral part of the wider neighbourhood and to apply that vision to an architectural proposal. Your proposal should detail types and mixes of work space, other uses and programs and overall density. It should demonstrate how productive uses could create livelier urban quarters, and address future urban challenges, for example the increase in internet trading.
At the launch of the competition on 26 June 2017, a selection of three sites within Nathan Way will be made available, from which you can choose one. In the week following the launch, seminars lead by specialists will provide further input.
Submissions can be made by individuals or groups of up to three individuals. Collaboration between different disciplines is encouraged. You need to be either a current student or a 2017 graduate. The £2,250 prize money comprises a £1,000 first prize, a £750 second prize, and a £500 third prize.
26.06.2017 – 3pm
Full brief released.
26.06.2017 – 3pm
Site visit followed by Introductory Talks
27.06.2017 – 3pm
Seminar 1: The Lay Of The Land
With Michael Smythe (Bow Arts Trust) on their proposed multi-use revival of Lakeside Centre Thamesmead; Kevin Mofid (Savills) about the current state of the market for industrial land in London; Rima Patel (Rima&McRae, a business on Nathan Way), on bartering and industrial gentrification; Alex Marsh (Greater London Authority) on the Park Royal Atlas and the Industrial Intensification Primer; Steve Payne (Segro, providers of industrial workspace throughout Europe), about their ‘Keep London Working’ study; and Oliver Goodhall (We Made That) about his interest in industrial spaces and the practice’s work on Plumstead and their Industrial Land Supply study.
28.06.2017 – 6pm
Seminar 2: The Future Of The Land
With Pamela Snow and Joe Williams (Cass Cities MA) on their study Architecture of Economic Affairs; Christian Spencer-Davies (Camley Street Community Land Trust) on proposals for a radical, sustainable and inclusive vision for the Camley Street Industrial Estate; Urska Skerl, (Universtiy of East London MA) on her densification proposals at Park Royal Industrial Estate; Abigail Batchelor (Karakusevic Carson Architects) on incorporating industrial and residential uses in Enfield; Yarden Woolf, Safeer Shersad, Laura Heinritz, Elisa Sanchez Del Rio (UCL) on their study into industrial uses in Barking under threat of residential redevelopment, and alternative proposals; Mikel Azcona (Hawkins\Brown research team) on their recent studies on industrial land.
Digital submission by 5pm.
11.08.2017 – 4pm
Chair: Oliver Wainwright
Olly is the Guardian’s architecture and design critic. Trained as an architect, he has worked for a number of practices, both in the UK and overseas, and written extensively on architecture and design for many international publications. He is also a visiting critic at several architecture schools.
Olly will chair a jury including Mary Adetayo (architecture graduate University of East London), Dr Philip Askew (director for landscape & placemaking at Peabody), Mark Brearley (Kaymet and Cass Cities), Jessica Ferm (Bartlett School of Planning and Just Space), Liza Fior (muf architecture/art), Tim Rettler (Greater London Authority), Lisa Taylor (Chief Executive, Future of London) and Cllr Danny Thorpe (Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability at Royal Borough of Greenwich).
London Works was hatched and is organised by Mark Lemanski in close collaboration with Peabody. Mark is an urban designer with a specific interest in architecture as an enabler of social interaction. He is practicing with muf architecture/art and is running a MA unit at the University of East London.
Q: Do I have to design the whole of Nathan Way, that’s quite a big area?
A: It is indeed, which is why the detailed brief will give you a choice of smaller sites located within this bigger area.
Q: I want to go and see my family abroad, but I would also love to participate in the competition.
A: Do both! Take part in the seminars, and then go and make your family work on the competition with you. You can email your submission.
Q: I would like to do do the competition with my friend, but she’s a carpenter.
A: As long as one of you is an architecture student, and as long as your group does not comprise more than three people, that’s fine.
Q: We are urban design students (not architecture students), does that count?
A: I should have answered that previous question differently. Yes, urban design certainly counts.
Q: I graduated from my Part II last June and am registered to study as a Part III student. Am I eligible to enter?
A: I’m afraid it’s a no, as you have already been practicing for a while.
Q: I graduated from a RIBA Part II Valided course in July 2014 and went straight into a full time PhD course in Architecture in October 2014, of which I am in the third year. Would I be eligible for the London Works student competition?
A: Glad to hear you are interested. Yes, as long as you are a full time student and haven’t been in practice (except for a year out), that’s fine.
Q: I am a PhD Student of Architecture, am I eligible to apply? I studied part II, but did not work in practice afterwards.
A: As above, yes. Welcome!
Q: Hi! I would like to take part in the competition, but I would be travelling during the site visit and seminars days. Can I still join the competition?
A: Yes. We will try to record the seminars for those who cannot attend. Should you have any questions to the panel, let me know and I will ask them on your behalf.
Q: I have a question regarding seminars and site visit. None of the team members of our group will be able to come to any of them as we have exams exactly these days. Are you planning to make some streaming or another form of documentation so we could learn it?
A: Nathan Way and Ridgeway are open land and can be visited any time. As above, we will try to produce a record, possibly more stenography than stream.
Q: We would be interested in taking the whole site to explore industrial spaces in relation to their wider context. As a result we are probably going to work on 1:2500 scale for one of the images, is this acceptable?
Why would industrial land diminish despite rising demand? Aren’t productive uses a bit out of date? What is industry anyway, and why can’t it be somewhere else?
We have collated a basic glossary and links to documents that will help you answer these questions, become an advocate for industrial land, and develop your competition vision.
Industry is the production of goods and related services. For example, warehouses accommodating production, distribution, repair; open storage and self-storage; wholesale, waste/ recycling and transport.
The Mayor of London is managing availability of land for industry by designating Strategic Industrial Locations (SILs) in the London Plan.
What goods and services will be produced in the future, and is industry better supported through SILs, or in mixed use settings?
THE PRODUCTIVE CITY
A term used to frame various architectural debates on the topic of incorporating productive uses in urban settings. It is for example the title of the current Europan 14.
Urban Renewal or Urban Regeneration describes the re-design of areas within an urban context, often initiated by authorities, and often involving changes of use. It can be good, or bad, or both.
38 areas identified in the London Plan deemed suitable for large scale commercial and housing development.
Nathan Way is part of the Thamesmead and Abbey Wood Opportunity Area, enveloped by the River Thames and the SouthEastern train line.
The Mayor of London has set up 31 Housing Zones to support housing construction in London. The western end of Nathan way is part of the Abbey Wood, Plumstead and West Thamesmead Housing Zone.
Cities are changing due to numerous forcing acting on them. Authorities are shaping that change through planning rules at national, city-wide, and local level.
The National Planning Policy Framework 2012
This is more pro-development than any previous guidance, with a presumption in favour of development. Planning officers are under pressure to meet annual housing targets, which have increased by 31% across London since 2011. From this year on, light industrial buildings can be converted to residential use without planning permission.
The London Plan, 2016
The London Plan is produced by the GLA and determines economic, environmental, transport and social planning of the capital over the next 20–25 years.
Chapter 2—London’s Places Policy 2.17 maps Strategic Industrial Locations [SIL] and offers guidance on related planning decisions (Development proposals in SILs should be refused unless …). West Thamesmead/Plumstead Industrial Area is categorized as a Preferred Industrial Location [PIL]. The London Plan has a target for ‘releasing’ industrial land to manage loss.
Royal Greenwich Local Plan, 2014
Produced by RBG, the local authority within which Nathan Way is located, this is the key strategic planning document to help shape development and determine planning applications.
It recognizes that the Plumstead Industrial Area is classed as a SILs in the London Plan and it is proposed that it remains so. However it also recommends that SILs within the borough are consolidated and their boundaries redefined to safeguard the best functioning industrial employment sites and release other poorly performing industrial employment sites for other uses (p.83).
This reflects the recommendations in the GLA’s Land for Industry and Transport SPG, which designates Greenwich as an area for the ‘managed transfer’ of industrial land (table 3.2), and gives an industrial land release benchmark between 2011-2031 of 50 hectares (annex 1).
Thamesmead and Abbey Wood SPG, 2009
Produced by RBG, it states that ‘The establishment of a thriving and sustainable economy within Thamesmead is a key strategic aim of both local authorities. Existing employment locations at White Hart Triangle, Nathan Way and Veridion Park will be protected and promoted. In addition, proposals which provide for a range of smaller scale workshops and incubator units will be welcomed, subject to viability analysis’.
OTHER POLICY DOCUMENTS
Industrial Intensification Primer, 2017
Produced by the GLA, this is an easy-to-digest study with plenty of illustrations of mixed use productive uses.
London Industrial Land Supply & Economy Study, 2015
Produced for the GLA, this document reviews existing industrial land and speculates on possible consequences of future restricted supply of industrial land, with lots of data and maps.
Keep London Working, 2017
Produced for Segro, a leading owner, manager and developer of warehouses and light industrial property, and co-sponsor of London Works, this report outlines the need to safeguard industrial land particularly in relation to urban logistics.
Is Peabody’s dedicated resource on Thamesmead’s history and its redevelopment.
Describes itself as ‘an informal alliance of community groups, campaigns and concerned independent organisations’, and features several posts on industrial land.