An Exploration of Urban Compaction
and the Use of Water as a Consolidating Element
London is suffering from an epidemic that affects all cities. A lack of space and time is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life for its occupants, who yearn for the elbow room of the countryside. Rarefication is impossible because there is simply nowhere to go. To make matters worse, vast chunks of central land at Kings Cross have been taken over exclusively by industries that separate Camley Crossing from the vast new development that is proposed to regenerate the Kings Cross area. Perhaps the solution is not an expansion of space, but exactly the opposite. Maybe the crossing can be opened up by filling it in. New spaces might be created by condensing what is already nearby. Voids could be filled. The surrounding city fabric would work as an ‘urban formwork.’ Places here that were previously inaccessible to one another would now be united by a common open water system that serves each in a different way. There might even be some empty space leftover in the end. And a swimming hole above the city.
At Camley Reservoir, disjunction is met with contradiction. A bridge of water above the tracks allows pedestrian access. A train stop in an industrial backwater brings users. A water reclamation system is built inside-out, engulfing those it serves. Contemporary issues are addressed with ancient systems. This empty place, once flooded, becomes a thoroughfare for commuters and travelers and a destination for hearty swimmers. By adapting ancient forms and materials to fit a contemporary industrial site, it is possible to create a sequential experience through a neglected part of London that breaks the traveler away from the normal pace of activity.