Thesis Thursday: Matthew Mills

Transurbance: A Walk About the River

The world in which we live is shaped by the pressures of industry. Where man’s attempt to increase profitability and prioritize output, results in bridges, highways and other infrastructure that create linear barriers which divide up our landscape. This dissertation aims to address the particular social, economic and environmental issues that exist within our industrial landscape, through the rehabilitation of the environment and re-establishing pedestrian importance.

befront_matthewmills_01The design is broken up into three urban schemes: the environment that consists of wetlands and waste collecting systems, the everyday that consists of a recycling centre, workshop, and apartments, and the play that consists of an urban swimming pool, and multi-functional market space.

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Through a close reading of the site’s existing concrete bridge structure, the architecture was led to explore ‘folding form’ as an alternative system that would attempt to merge landscape, building and infrastructure into one. This is essential in creating a new architecture that is intricately connected to its site and its users.

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The solution that emerged consists of a long linear path that’s formed along the river.  It moves over and under transport barriers, utilizing the often dead residual spaces to provide a pedestrian connection to the shore. . The path is continuous and unbroken but through its use of organic folds, it creates moments in which observation, interaction, play and discovery can take place.

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“explore ‘folding form’ as an alternative system”

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The constructed path forms a weir in the river, bringing floating debris to a recycling centre, where it can be re-purposed into usable components that restore the river, such as landscaping elements made out of plastic floating wetland units.

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The rehabilitation of the natural environment was central to this dissertation, therefore the architecture focuses on the collecting and recycling of plastic waste found on site, through the use of technology and machines.

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Waste Catching Process
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Waste Collection Process
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Recycling Centre

This dissertation plays with the definitions of the man-made and the natural, creating a design that can rehabilitate the environment, and illustrate the destruction man has wrought on nature. It is my belief that the design will be able to shift its users’ understanding of the environment, to one where technology and nature can exist not only harmoniously but also symbiotically.

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*All images by Matthew Mills