Support Structures

James Mearns

Project description

How can we retain our non-listed fabric; and how could a building perform this role? 

Support Structures emphasises architects’ pivotal role in addressing the climate crisis. First, every architect is assigned existing buildings for which they become caretaker – responsible for their maintenance and care. The proposal then explores how this role might be performed by a new building.

Such a caretaker building envelops the existing industrial buildings at Woolwich Dockyard to protect them against impending demolition and redevelopment. It provides a new public landscape above their service yards and offers potential for further public programme in the spaces between them, ensuring their continued support. 

The project identifies retrofit as a method rather than an action; a continuous process that creates a series of living buildings, intertwined within a dynamic ecosystem of mutualised support that undergoes gradual, incremental change. The principles of maintenance and care embedded in the proposed design subsequently reflect back onto the pivotal role of architects in addressing the climate crisis.

Site location

James Mearns

1:50 Fragment Concept Model

James Mearns

Perspective Section

James Mearns

Retention and Support

James Mearns

Raised Public Landscape

James Mearns

Aerial Axonometric

James completed his Part I at the University of Bath, spending a semester as an Erasmus student at the Technische Universität München, and graduated in 2020.

He has since been working at Haworth Tompkins across a range of housing, industrial and workspace projects. James is interested in creating an architecture that is resolutely honest, clear in its tectonics, and makes best use of the right resources in the right places.

His favourite buildings are those that are imbued with an appreciation of the context that they occupy, underpinned by a rational and reasoned approach to design.