UTOPIA 100 | An Hybrid City for London
The problem of a great flood in London has been selected by Ángel Martínez García as the main problem to resolve with his architectural final project for the University of Alicante this year. The history of floods in London has been disastrous and repetitive over the years. The first great flood in London in the 20th Century happened in 1901, as reported by the London Daily Graphic that year, much damage was done in the town and they reported that the lower parts of Coventry were completely submerged, the water in some cases rised to the numbers upon the doors. Steve Orland shared an amazing image of that flood here. After that, in 1928, there was the Thames Flood, that affected much of riverside London on 7 January 1928, as well as places further downriver and the 1947 Thames flood was worst overall 20th century flood of the River Thames, affecting much of the Thames Valley as well as elsewhere in England during the middle of March 1947 after a severe winter. More recently, in 2007, another flooding event happened in the city with consequences in the transport system, as the London Underground was severely disrupted and 25 stations were closed. In such scenario, Ángel Martinez had a huge exploration site to develop his project.
The first part of Angel’s research is Metropia, a Topological Map of some of the utopias of the past Century. Working on the classification of 99 utopias through a time-line, his project London 2100 has been developed to be utopia #100.
The project UTOPIA 100 has been developed as an opportunity to imagine the future, under a subjective perspective but linked with ancient and contemporary theories. How will be the future of our cities? The possibilities are endless… That’s why Ángel selected just one topic to start with a hypothesis with evidence of being real: The Great Flood of London. An important part of the project is the narrative itself, using drawings and imagination as the basic tools for the project, as the author pointed:
Drawing as a tool of knowledge in order to an objective view, the subjectivity of their own. The imagination as a purposeful tool, engine of any utopia that has to be shown to rest through its graphical representation, in order to be viewed and understood by others. London 2100, is a hypothetical future situation, in which London has become a city that lives with water after a flood due to gradual sea level rise for climate change processes.
The project is proposed to be developed in different stages, the transition will be gradual, based on the current state of the city in terms of economic, social, political and technological climate, trying to get an ad-hoc architecture that gives responses to all this issues.
The idea to design floating cites is not new at all. Kenzo Tange, Noriaki Kurokawanear and Buckminster Fuller did it in the 60s and Vincent Callebaut and West 8 did the same recently. In 2008, Anthony Lau also proposed a similar project, the Floating City 2030: Thames Estuary Aquatic Urbanism, and selected the Thames Estuary as the site for aquatic urban expansion, that will be an alternative solution to the current plans to build 120,000 new homes on flood plains in the Thames Gateway. But Ángel Martínez didn’t design a floating city, he has designed an hybrid city, a floating cities nearby London that gets into the land gradually: a city in that coexists with water, after a gradual flooding due to sea level rise for climate change processes.
In this context, this hybrid city is also a growing city, starting with the proposal for a Reversed City, in which the green zones will become the new urban nods to build a future city. As part of the narrative of the project, the author has worked like a story-teller and present the complete story with a set of hypothesis that drives us through the history of the U.K. from the year 2000 to the 2100, with texts like:
After the gradual flooding of the Thames, Canary Wharf was condemned and mold started to colonize its walls. A green patina became part of the new facades that represented the humid London of year 2050 […] Preparations for the “Technology Show of Britain” in 2051 were happening close to the old district of South Bank.
In 2075, the hangover of the “Technology Show of Britain” left a mark visible in all the new buildings and it seems like the future that everybody wear waiting for, suddenly came like a hurricane in urban spent.
Using this technique of text mixed up with drawings, we can travel to a hundred of years of history in London and understand all of the new urban approaches that Ángel proposes for the final stage of the city, in the year 2100.
The city intends to be self-sustainable, focused on food production, and to be able to do so, the project includes some proposals for hydroponic farms, a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil; and algae farms, as follow:
Although the project has been designed as an utopia since it started, it’s interesting to think on the possibilities of using the flooded landscape. Returning to a flooded site can be devastating most of the times. That’s why the idea of not going against floods but using this dystopic landscape as a seed for new urban developments, can be quite interesting. Thinking on this kind of hybrid cities opens up a huge set of possibilities in terms of mobility, easy reconfigurations and versatility.
You can see the complete project with all the texts at The Project | AMG. Thanks to Ángel for sharing with us his project.