Advanced Design Studio: McLaughlin
East London, and more specifically Whitechapel, is a neighborhood that has always been a destination for the newest citizens of London. Defined at the turn of the 20th century by its bustling docks and robust working class population, it has now become a cultural center of the Bangladeshi population. However with growth and mobility, the Bangladeshis are slowly moving out and yet another new population, primarily eastern Europeans, have begun to move in. The transient nature of this neighborhood was a departure point for imagining a civic space that could accommodate the current population, whomever they may be, but also acknowledge the adaptive nature of the community. Both the construction timeline and building methods of Gothic cathedrals were strong drivers in the conceptual framework and subsequent form of the project. Using the existing row houses located on the site as an anchor, both literally and figuratively, this project seeks to express the codependence between history and governance and a diverse and changing populace. The row house typology, which dominated the urban fabric of this neighborhood a hundred years ago, is now limited to vestigial moments. In most cases these human scale buildings have been replaced with larger structures that have restricted public access and minimal open space. The “Meeting Wall” is a scaffolding structure that traces the footprint of the historic row houses on the site. On the eastern end, the scaffolding is mirrored and supports itself to create a meeting hall for public assembly. The western side is supported by tension cables which connect back to the row houses and create a shaded plaza that people can gather in for more informal assembly.