A film production site shall be introduced to Purfleet-on-Thames, South Essex on the Thames Estuary. The proposal responds to the ‘golden hour of film and tv’ arising across the UK, and the GLA’s idea for a ‘cultural corridor’ along the estuary with intent to boost economy and employment rates. Tackling real events, the project addresses existing approaches from master planning to infrastructure. Ultimately, the project aims to aid a shift in perception of the site and wider context by creating interventions that celebrate the landscape and industries of past and present.
The project takes a radical, yet sympathetic approach to re-landscaping, posing an alternative approach for the future of the estuary. Formerly the site hosted industrial infrastructure, leaving behind brownfield site recognised as vital habitat for invertebrate species. These characteristics are celebrated in the masterplan via the brownfield recreational park for use by visitors and residents. The central stretch is wilder as the seawall is removed, and soft flood defences introduced around the back of the site. A steady incline forms a flood plain of widened foreshore and reed bed, boosting a natural relation to the estuary.
With the ethos ‘go-large’ the project addresses possible challenges to be faced by the program and the site. The steel structure fixed to vacant bunds with its own fabric envelope, creates a giant cover for independent internal volumes, which are accessed by a theatrical set of walkways and staircases. The program scales back on big production, hosting one sound stage able to be separated for confidentiality, and allowing room for training and public engagement. The Polyvalent theatre by Lacaton and Vassal and the Maison du Peuple by Jean Prouve influenced the idea to imbed playful systems for spaces to adapt to many roles. This idea is expressed by presenting the vast central space as not belonging to one aspect of the program but opened, closed or lit to support various functions.
‘On Location’- a film production site in a post industrial, estuarine landscape. Can we create something lasting that perhaps isn’t designed to last?