Regeneration vs. Gentrification: An intimate interplay of contrasts
The Fleet Water Centre addresses the current issues surrounding flooding and drinking water shortages in London by introducing a localised water facility as an argument to the recently approved development of Royal Mail Group in Mount Pleasant (WC1X 0DL): a catalyst for the area's rapid gentrification. It is polemic, challenging London’s current shift towards gentrification as a regenerative mechanism and argues the increasing importance of establishing localised infrastructure to tackle local issues compared to far-flung facilities that respond to those issues in an erroneous manner.
Gentrification promotes the pushing out of infrastructure with unpleasant bi-products such as foul smell, darkness, and flooding to name but a few. The contrasts between the shiny development above, and the raw, unrefined constitution of the intervention below stimulates a conversation between the Fleet Water Centre and its surrounding context. The water station is proposed as a habitable local infrastructure whose intention is to slow the rapid gentrification by exposing structures and historical layers preserved under the sorting office.
The insertion of monumental composite rammed earth walls into the existing building processes grey water that flows directly out of the excavated subterranean Fleet River; a Thomasson, providing visitors an opportunity to interact with water in its different stages of purification: touch, swim, drink. Interplay of raw textural qualities, both introduced and unearthed/exposed by splicing and inserting will orchestrate an urban landscape in the most unexpected of places.