Once Upon A Time

By Daniel Widrig, Taimuzi Fu, Anongnad Srisurayotin, Xinze Zhan, Hanyu Zheng, Material Architecture Lab – Team Concrete

Connection to Harringay Warehouse District

The design highlights the unseen character and reveals the untold stories of the Harringay Warehouse District community. The pavilion will be made from a sustainable, locally produced concrete with varied hard and soft parts. Concealed within the concrete will be intimate objects that reflect the varied activities, cultures and peoples of the area. Over time, the weather and human activities will erode the soft parts of the material, revealing these objects. Community members, residents, artists, children and educators will be involved in the process of creating this unique material, making this pavilion made by and for the people of Harringay.

Proposal Outline

The act of making spans all age groups, races and socioeconomic statuses, and can be a tool for bridging the gaps caused by gentrification. The proposed pavilion is composed of an assembly of concrete blocks embedded with found objects, made by the community using local materials. Over time and through use, the softer parts of the blocks are allowed to erode, revealing from the concrete surface the memories hidden within, memories that tie the community to ownership of the things they have made.

The design approach is driven by a material aspiration to produce an accessible, simple and functional space for the artist community and local residents to cohabit. The community of Harringay Warehouse District will be empowered throughout the process of developing this pavilion by participating in the material creation. By allowing residents creative freedom to include an object of their choice into the material of the pavilion, a sense of mutual ownership is created. Most importantly, this allows members of the community the opportunity to define their own environment, which is often beyond their control.

While the community’s objects of choice will be the most emotionally valuable elements of the construction materials, they will also contribute to a local and free source of material. The community’s objects alongside local waste streams such as demolition debris will account for more than 50% of the pavilions construction materials. Additionally, oyster shell waste will be collected from markets and restaurants (within a 10 kilometre radius from the site) to create a more sustainable alternative to concrete. Oyster shell waste can be used as a raw building material to create Lime, an essential element in developing concrete blocks. The utilisation of oyster shells in place of traditional concrete will not only lessen the environmental impact of the building materials, but could also bring the cost of the design well below the proposed budget. These Oyster[crete] blocks will be mixed, moulded and cast on site, allowing for an easy and low-impact approach to construction.
Once created, the blocks can be reconfigured to provide seating, shelving, tabletops or presentation surfaces. An open-grid design plan allows for the pavilion to be used in a variety of outdoor activities such as markets, workshops and yoga classes. Additionally, the central pavilion will be shielded with a semi-transparent polycarbonate roof structure, allowing natural light to permeate while keeping rain out.

Over time, weather and activity will partially erode specific softer parts of the blocks, and reveal the embedded objects from the community as well as the repurposed demolition debris. This gradual revealing of these objects within the concrete reconnects and reinforces the shared connection and ownership of the pavilion with the community, acting as a response and antidote to the divisive nature of gentrification.