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Charlotte Baker

MA work

Architecture and Aisthesis/ Exploding the Montgomery: Detonation as a catalyst for growth in London's Thames Estuary

The shared site boundaries of the highly explosive, shipwrecked SS Montgomery and shortlisted proposals for a new airport in London's Thames Estuary are cross referenced in this master-plan strategy for controlled detonation.

Based on the hypothesis that as mass re-development of this area is inevitable, so consequently is the removal of the volatile wreck in its midst. The 1,400 tonnes of unstable TNT still on board necessitating its safe removal as the most fundamental of enabling works: the detonation becomes representative of the symbiotic relationship between destruction and creation.

Whilst the overall aims of the thesis are to engage with issues associated with highly contentious schemes for airport expansion as they unfold, and to pose wider questions concerning acceleration and globalisation, the architectural time-frame of the project is just ten minutes.

From the lighting of the first charge to last reverberations and tidal surge, multiple proposals allowing for safe spectatorship and blast control occupy a master plan boundary determined by the speed of sound, light and pressure wave. Acoustic mirrors, blast deflectors, surge attenuation devices and stadium seating respond to both the peripheral and interior conditions of the blast radius.

At the heart of the thesis, the allure of prospective disaster.


  • Ballast in the Estuary
  • MA Degree


    School of Architecture


    MA Architecture, 2014

  • Degrees

  • BSc (Hons) Architecture, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London
  • Exhibitions

  • Dainow and Dainow, Vitra Showroom, London, 2010; Dainow and Dainow, The Building Centre, London, 2011; Brick Lane Gallery, London, 2010
  • Awards

  • The Worshipful Company of Grocers Golden Jubilee Scholarship for Excellence, 2008–2012