[GpM] Ground Plain Modifier

AUTHOR: Edwina Bland

Model showing water and housing existing together
First model of water and housing together Digital studies of the three soil types with program allocated Wet soil density study Moist soil density study Dry soil density study Finished housing densities, according to typology Compositional plans of water and housing Models of the three soil types Light studies of the deck and housing Clothing the houses in ecologically friendly elements Individual typology house plans Buildup of the houses with skins clipped onto the frame Porous deck study Thermal water walls study Massing models of frame, deck and housing options Section Option One view01.jpg


Prototypes: Scenario Games: Action Plan:


Climate change is worsening. The site conditions in Thamesmead have a landscape that is prone to flooding, and the ground plain varies from dry to wet soil conditions, making it unstable. Housing is currently proposed for the site, as part of the Thames Gateway Zones of Change. Water and housing are expected to coexist mutually beneficially, as opposed to traditional building methods, which are rigid and antagonistic to the ground plain. The prototype is about a series of vertical layers, which move up from the ground plain – cuts, space frame, deck and houses. A porous deck serves as a datum plain allows rain to pass through it, thereby reducing the runoff from a site and surrounding areas.
The organic landscape needs to be ordered. Climate change can be relieved through an alternative water cycle which reduces water demand per household and alleviates the risk of houses flooding. There are seven water tools which are distributed through a strip of the site to store, channel and treat surface water. They are made by concrete components which cut, extrude and fold to direct the dynamic flows.The housing sits above the water landscape. It is a mix of typologies which also varies according to the soil conditions. Closer to the river, there is less density and lower building heights, to give a sense of transparency. Buildings are higher off the ground to prevent flooding, and more exclusive as they are bigger and detached.

A frame is used to lift the houses off the natural ground plain. This may also be used for enclosure and structural support of the houses, so that the ecological elements can clip on like skins to the boxes. The space frame also regulates the 10mx10m grid system that dictates planning layout.

The existing water cycle uses mains water to meet the demands of the houses, and mains sewers to channel waste away. This scheme takes advantage of the flooding and unstable ground plain on the site and also alleviates climate change, by proposing a new water cycle. This uses water from the Thames to be treated and used for grey water tasks, and reuses water from the houses to lower the demand for treated water.
Ecologically friendly elements are used to ‘clothe’ the housing boxes. These are orientation, thermal mass, stack ventilation, thermal zoning, solar panels, insulation, SIPs, home water treatment, dual piping, on demand hot water, rainwater collectors, treatment plant, reed beds, irrigation, water features and courtyards.

Houses are geometrically simple, in contrast with the organic water cuts, and work on the basis of a standard unit that can be repeated and manipulated to form a prefab housing system. They are easy to build and cheap, and then dressed in various ecologically friendly elements within the modular 10mx10m grid. The plans are the only part that varies according to typology. Thermal zoning is used to order the rooms from hot to cold areas, leaving neutral open spaces. Density studies look at contemporary housing projects as references for achieving comparable homes per hectare.
The money for lifting the prototype above the natural plain would be shared by the local Council, since the site would serve as a natural flood defence, and the developer, who would benefit from their property being protected from flooding. EDF would be consulted for all prototypes, for energy provision and Carbon Emissions reduction.This site already has planning permission for 347 homes under the Zones of Change program. The scheme proposes a slice of a bigger prototype – this is a unit which could be expanded or multiplied as required. Various housing developers could take zones or fingers of the deck to develop.