Nefeli Kouroushi: Custom house caravanserai


Civic infrastructure for cross-fertilisation

Custom House – Royal Victoria Dock Western Terrace, London Borough of Newham

To instil pride and dignity in the existing local community, whilst integrating a new community by creating truly inclusive civic and public spaces.

The fragmented area of Custom House is in danger of becoming even more segregated through the ongoing regeneration project. This should instead be taken as an opportunity to stitch the urban grain together.

The civic infrastructure strengthens the physical connection between two harshly separated areas of different scales, characters and levels of investment. A lightweight structure symbolises transparency and facilitates adaptability. By employing a grid system which has the ability to expand and morph, the scheme enables flexibility alongside order in infrastructure-scale architecture. Spaces are designed as a series of layers of varying transparencies amongst which activity takes place.

The infrastructure responds to the lack of cultural and educational provision in the community, and also provides workspaces and training programmes to address its high proportion of unskilled youth.