The project was conceived as a M.Arch Urban Design thesis at The Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL), London, 2009. Being located at the confluence of the river Lee and the river Thames, the project takes inspiration in the site’s rich, mainly industrial, history (East India Docks) and its specific characteristics – tidal mud.
It is a project which celebrates experimentation with alternative solutions, with nature, with surrealism. It is a utopian fantasy; the creation of a self reliant community where crazy architectural components, recycled structures and machinery are intertwined with bizarre natural forms. ‘Composed’ by its people, it is a place where diversity and imagination are celebrated; a dynamic, ever-changing urban form with very few compositional rules and no aesthetic control, where nature and its chaotic yet precise character could thrive.
Central to the proposal is an inhabited working (24/7) crane assorting units and reorganising public spaces according to people’s needs. Surrounding tidal mud is mixed with earth and used between units to ‘grow’ the landscape and ‘tie’ the community together.
The author tells a story of his (the uncle’s) imaginary lottery win which allows him to purchase the site, invite professionals / friends to develop and share the vision. They develop a few rules and guidelines for the community, build the cranes, plant the landscape and assort the first few homes for themselves. Then the uncle mysteriously disappears leaving the community to grow and develop without his further involvement. The author plays this out by building a base model, preparing the inhabitation units, inviting 5 of his friends to whom he explains his vision and a few building rules (e.g. span of the cranes) Then he gives his friends some plasticine and allows them to build (assort) the community without much of his involvement.
key guidelines / framework, given plasticine and off they went.
The Island was presented in Urban Transcripts 2012 “London the (n)ever-changing city”, exhibition and conference, in London, UK, December 2012.
Aigars Lauzis (1981) is a Landscape Architect, Urban and Naval Designer (www.lauzis.com) with over 8 years of professional experience gathered worldwide. After the initial landscape studies and practice in his home Latvia Aigars moved to London in 2007. Having worked for some of London’s high profile landscape practices (such as Martha Schwartz Partners) and obtained his second Masters degree (Urban Design with Distinction, The Bartlett School of Architecture) Aigars set off from London on his bicycle (2013). During the last three and a half years he has cycled across Eurasia to China making stops to work in the field of Landscape Architecture in Istanbul, Dubai and Singapore (www.lauzis-ontheroad.tumblr.com). He is currently based in Shanghai where he co-founded a Landscape Studio called FLO.