Jack Bowen: The Metropolitan Wild


The Metropolitan Wild proposes a new form of cityscape that can tackle four issues: pollution, flooding, biodiversity and poverty

Goal & objective
The four issues tackle pollution, flooding, biodiversity and poverty. First, 27/27 water bodies of the Lea Valley fail the ecological status test. Second, the Lea Valley is part of an area ‘recognised as the largest concentration of properties not protected by flood defences in the country’. Third, the rapid decline of biodiversity has left one in 10 UK wildlife species facing extinction. Finally, Haringey is the 13th most deprived authority in the UK. Therefore experimentation of a new form of cityscape that can tackle these issues, enhancing the urban and ecological environment, is required.

The landscape proposal enhances the four distinct habitats – woodland, marshland, river and open water – by the de-channelisation of a portion of the River Lea. This allows for cycles of natural flooding, working with nature instead of against it. The architectural proposal takes the form of an undulating walkway, curving in reaction to topography and habitat. This allows the site to be used during floods and provides opportunities for domestic, commercial and civic typologies nestled beneath, lending to the creation of a unique and highly specified neighbourhood. The community land trust ensures the community grows and develops democratically and sustainably, the people being custodians of the wildlife.

‘Bio-filtration’ of marshland vegetation absorbs toxins from the water while providing habitat for endangered species, not only affecting the site but the watercourse downstream. Instead of artificially controlling the watercourse with flood defences, weirs and locks, maintaining water levels, natural flooding and the capturing of water is promoted, thus alleviating the pressure of the Victorian flood defence infrastructure. The creation of this neighbourhood provides a self- sustaining network of new jobs, charities and local businesses while preserving and protecting the local character, community and ecology of the place. It will ensure a reversal of gentrification through affordable homes and commercial spaces. It also provides the opportunity to live in symbiosis with a remarkable habitat.

Site location
Tottenham Marshes, London Borough of Haringey, N17 0XD

Project size
370,000 sqft / 35,000 sqm

Lea Valley Regional Park Authority and The Tottenham Marshes Tenant Management Organisation