Using the town of Margate as their case study, students from Studio 2 of the BA Architecture Course at Central Saint Martin’s were inspired by the Blue New Deal research on UK coastal communities to explore new ideas for living, working and playing by the seaside.
The projects pose simple questions in relation to the key issues of Housing, Local Economies, and Tourism and Leisure. The resulting proposals celebrate the distinct cultural values and realities of Margate, suggesting possibilities for sustainable development and civic pride.
When Dreamland, Britain’s oldest amusement park, reopened in Margate following a £10 million renovation, it could be read as symbolic of the Kentish town’s rollercoaster journey. Margate was the archetypal English seaside town: a heritage plaque proudly claims the very first donkey rides, deckchairs and boarding houses. What began as a much-loved beach resort had, by the 1990s, become a run-down town with polarised communities, high levels of unemployment, deprivation and pockets of anti-social behaviour; more recently, arts-led investment has started to alter specific parts of the townscape.
The students investigated the nature and history of Margate, gathering stories of real people who live, work and play in the area. They generated a series of illustrated scenarios and imagined new potential narratives – ‘living briefs’ for Margate.
Here are the resulting projects:
Northdown Network , Helena Jordan
What architectures could plug into our suburban neighbourhoods to facilitate play and exchange between communities?
This project questions what a neighbourhood could be in a fragmented society. Focused on social regeneration through education and exchange, the Northdown Network allows for interaction and relationship-forming, through a mixed programme of residency and civic activities with a cross-community appeal.
The Contemporary Guild of ‘The Knockers Through’, Jonathon Howard
Can an alternative model of self-build restoration also become a communal and celebratory act?
The project follows a group of individuals called the ‘Knockers Through’. This tribe is named for a social classification of people who were known to literally ‘knock through’ wall, renovating properties that were perceived to be low in value. Follow the modern-day knockers-through as they travel towards Margate, in search of opportunities to renovate the urban fabric.
Haeckels House, Jandre Grobler
How could we maximise the potential of the ocean’s natural and plentiful resources to reinvigorate Margate’s tourism and leisure industry?
The project aims to capitalise on Margate’s rich coastal ingredients as a vital and unique asset. Identifying a niche industry in health treatments and therapy, Haeckels House makes the most of natural resources for year-round economy – resources with the potential to revitalise, educate and benefit the seaside community.
Producing Margate, Oscar Murray
Can a community-led alternative civic centre open up new urban commons, shared by local activists and tourist populations alike?
Complementing and building resilience alongside new and future development, this project repurposes and reimagines the existing urban fabric. Establishing a new civic space in Margate secures a platform for the burgeoning number of active community members who are contributing towards positive actions for the town.
A Neighbourhood Space for Cliftonville, Ryan Lewis
Can an outdoor living room be mobilised to shape emerging attitudes, patterns of living and working, and public amenity in Margate?
A new civic space for Cliftonville, on the fringes of Margate, could place the arts and artists at the centre of its public realm – extending the establishment of new arts institutions in the town centre. This space would allow independence from prevalent arts funding models, thereby enabling a long-term presence in the community.
The Margate High Rise, Kane Carroll
What social effects could be produced by carefully retrofitting and interfering with the architecture of Margate’s singular, brutalist tower?
A series of interventions penetrate Margate’s lone concrete high-rise, bringing the benefits of the town into the tower, while potentially opening new perspectives on to the building itself. In doing so, seeking to capitalise on and draw out existing transient social interactions that take place among residents and citizens.
The Cliftonville Collective, Ayesha Silburn
In what ways can we mobilise the skills and abilities of incoming communities to aid integration and regeneration of the built environment?
Newly arrived communities of Cliftonville are involved in the process of constructing a multi functional, residential and neighbourhood building. The resulting proposal and the processes behind its creation become a social platform, enabling exchange and casual collaborations between different communities in the area.
Pala, Lewis Shannon
How can we facilitate the dwelling of alternate cultures and ways of inhabiting the coastal landscape, alongside the dominant forces of regeneration?
Critiquing the hegemonic nature of current development efforts, Pala is a new cultural park along the shore of central Margate. The proposal draws on the work and ideas of Ranciere, Huxley, McLuhan and Eliot, attempting to draw alternative and under-represented voices into a broader socio-cultural narrative of culture.
Performance Centre: Margate, Mona Gluosnyte
Could an architectural intervention aid in fostering artistic talent in Margate, feeding back into its historic leisure and entertainment industry?
This project draws the currently disparate network of Margate’s existing dance and performance spaces into a bespoke and designated promenade. Revitalising the seaside resort’s once-prominent entertainment industry, the Centre establishes a new performance arts hub, which could aid in Margate’s regeneration.
(See)Weed Margate, Anna Piotrowicz
Can the relationship between landscape, natural resources and leisure be synthesised into an renewable energy infrastructure of public benefit?
The proposal aims to reconnect citizens with nature, using part of Margate’s ambiguously urban fabric to establish an infrastructure that draws upon one of its most plentiful natural resources; seaweed. It aims to reorient the way we engage with energy consumption, landscape and natural resources.
Fort Hill Hotel, Dominik Twarog
Could emerging socially-orientated technologies be harnessed to enhance the ubiquitous seaside hotel, catering to a new type of seaside tourist?
The renovation of the Fort Road hotel integrates a continuous route of mixed use and experience within its site, partly internalising the high street. In doing so, it aims to establish and promote new interactions, fostering social and economic exchanges between and among seasonal tourists and local inhabitants.
The Lido Redux, Nathan Quainoo
How might a decaying seaside icon be revived to protect local heritage while generating cross-cultural relationships?
The Lido Redux is a cross-cultural venue integrated into the existing fabric of the leisure complex. The building serves as a cultural condenser for both British and minority heritages. The lido’s uses are informed by the history of the site as a haven for Margate residents, where elements of local cultures are practiced and passed on to future generations.
Harbour Arm, Awais Ali
How could the trading and dwelling history of the harbour be reimagined as a centre for a newly productive shoreline?
The proposal aims to reinterpret the role of Margate’s iconic harbour-arm through the introduction of small-scale fishing huts, which serve a newly established fish market. Reactivating the harbour and giving it a new interest to both tourists and locals alike, the proposal lessens dependence on Margate’s seasonal economy.
Margate Promenade, Ben Bradford
Could a reinvention of the pier typology stabilise maritime economy whilst establishing a dialogue between youth cultures and the wider public?
The project attempts to re-establish productive relationships between disenfranchised youth and the broader population Margate. Four new spaces Interrupt the promenade: a radio station, a performance venue, a restaurant-bar and a pier. These spaces overlay the social patterns of varied groups, creating a discourse.