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Polyark 3 (Rome)

Part of the Westminster delegation, taking part in Polyport, devised by the RIBA Education Department honoring the inspirational influence of Cedric Price. RIBA Notions of Exchange and Redefining the Idea of 'Polyport', Rome Tre University, 2013; 


Polyport PolyArk 3 Presentation

''Westminster is delighted to take part in Polyport, devised by the RIBA Education Department honouring the inspirational influence of Cedric Price. It has provided a rare opportunity for design tutor Dr Constance Lau to develop an imaginative project and to work with a small group of students.  She describes the way in which the ideas of Polyark 3 are interleaved and developed into a multi directional exchange, both physical and virtual, involving colleagues from Singapore.  Our grateful thanks to Constance and her students Adriyana Dimitrova, Panagiota Kotsovinou, Ioana Vierita, Louise King, Larisa Bulibasa, Andreea-Laura Nica, and Sear Nee Ng.   All have exceeded expectation and requirement, and embraced this project with talent and hardwork and enjoyment – the outcome is to be celebrated in this book.'' 

Professor Katharine Heron - Head, Department of Architecture, University of Westminster

''This proposal is designed to address issues raised in the Polyark 3 brief issued by the RIBA. This year, the dialogue concerning Polyports is to be established between three architecture schools (University of Westminster, National University of Singapore, and Sheffield Hallam), cumulating in a public ‘Super-Mega-Crit’ in The British School at Rome. 
The arrangement of the teams meant that the University of Westminster was to incorporate aspects of the brief ‘A New Container Port on the Edge of Singapore’, issued by the National University of Singapore.

In Westminster’s design brief, the suggestion of a Polyport is argued and interpreted in close relation to the notion of ‘exchange’. Set at Kew Gardens, the aspect calling for ‘A Royal Botanical Pop-up Garden’ explored the main themes of nature and trade. These design proposals were used to link London and Singapore through the exchange of knowledge and products between the botanical gardens of both countries. This ethos is further enhanced by the notion of Polyport, and most notably the exchange of interpretative documents governing the choices of site in London (and Singapore). 

Hence the main narrative sees the design work produced for Kew Gardens in London relocating to Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. This allows for the contrasting differences between Kew Garden’s royal and historical lineage and Gardens by the Bay as a twenty-first century botanical garden to be examined. While the first is read as a separate collection of buildings and experiences, the latter serves as an example of mega-scaled architecture which relies on both nature and technology to perform as a sustainable organism.
Hence the ‘Pop-up Garden’ is a displaced garden with the capability to ‘pop up’ on both sites, and is able to adapt to suit specific geographical, topographical, climatic and/ or programmatic features as appropriate. 

The ranges of ideas in the projects presented demonstrate an exceeding wide approach to addressing contextual relationships in the design process. There are proposals which directly reference Kew such as ‘The Wandering Garden’, which concerns the modern picturesque; ‘An Esoteric History of English Landscape’, which explores the notion of palimpsest; and ‘The Imperial Botanist Folly’ which dwells on colonial nostalgia. In contrast, there are proposals that choose to use the futuristic quality of Gardens by the Bay as a starting point for their narratives. ‘The Floating Archive’ is an utopian proposal; ‘The Water Temple’ has an ecological agenda; and ‘Breeding Chambers: A Living Fungarium’ is best described as sustainable science-fiction. These ‘pop-up’ gardens all result from different readings of Kew Gardens, as well as Gardens by the Bay and more importantly, reflect the diversity of the students’ own research.'' 

Dr Constance Lau - Design Studio 03 Leader , Department of Architecture, University of Westminster

 The Temple of Water

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in London is situated on the edge of the Thames River and although located within a flood risk zone, does not benefit from having flood defenses. Moreover, the flat site is especially susceptible during extreme weather conditions when the water level in the river rises dramatically. 

As opposed to prevention, the design proposal seeks to engage with the massive-scale phenomena of flooding by exploring current possibilities and future opportunities with regard to the role of architecture. Hence the idea of a water temple considered the long term cause and effect of flooding. The structure celebrates the visual qualities and interacts with the force and movement of the water. In addition, the different resulting spatial and programmatic configurations will serve to inform and enable the users to personally experience this approach to architectural design. 

Designed as a transitory structure that adapts to different topographies and can be placed strategically on different water edges, the Temple of Water is a dynamic structure that is capable of interacting with both the rain and the river in extreme conditions. 

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