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Melanie Rich

MA work

East Pass

At ground level, London is saturated, large open plots of land for development are sparse. The project ‘East Pass’ investigates the potential to build above existing infrastructure providing housing and a new connection route in East London. Looking at rail infrastructure alone, it has been proven that if just 10% of air space above the open rail tracks is built on, 280,000 new homes could be achieved in the capital.*

The proposal follows the over-ground viaduct from Shoreditch High Street to Mile End providing a raised streetscape strategically knitted back into the communities on either side of the train line. This raised street opens up the opportunity to build housing and commercial amenities in the airspace above the train lines while providing two critical connections: a) from the private realm of the home into the existing communities at ground level and b) a shared pedestrian/cycle path bridging from Tower Hamlets into the City.

Learning from the work of Neave Brown’s Alexandra Road Estate, the 'East Pass' tests keys ideas of connection between the public and the private at different levels. Alexandra Road (completed in 1979) is the centrepiece of the Camden Council Architect's Department's post-war housing estates. The architecture holds a strong sense of order and repetition ultimately derived from the Georgian examples that shaped London. The project was a brave attempt to experiment with a  ‘modern’ form of living while providing high-density living. The complex manages to successfully define relationships between public and private spaces. Each housing block directly faces its neighbours in an intimate way only subdivided through a series of semi-private terraces and the main streetscape below. The strong use of stairs as a repetitive architectural device allows this connection to become visually as well as physically monumental, giving a clear form of community and pride within the scheme.

Extrapolating these principle ideas, ‘East Pass’ experiments with a form of ‘modern’ housing for today. Connections between the existing ground level of Tower Hamlets, the occupied raised street and the housing are all achieved through the use of ‘the stair’ as a repetitive architectural motif. Internally, the flats explore a flexible floor plan with rooms distinguished not by use but through the variation of light that penetrates deep into the form from above and out onto the train lines below.


* Out of Thin Air - Building above London's rail lines, WSP 2017



Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Architecture

    Programme

    MA Architecture, 2019

    Specialism

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  • Degrees

  • BSc Architecture, University of Bath, 2016
  • Experience

  • Architectural assistant, Wilkinson Eyre Architects, London, 2016-19; Internship, Burberry, London, 2018; Architectural assistant, Marks Barfield Architects, London, 2015