craft:pegg has been chosen as one of the winners in the high-profile Forgotten Spaces competition run by RIBA London.

Section views of the rafts
Section views of the rafts

The ideas competition challenged entrants to come up with new uses for overlooked pockets of land in London, and the practice’s plans to re-invent the Thames riparian ecology with an archipelago of eco-rafts won third prize.

From their offices overlooking the river at East India Dock, the craft:pegg team conceived of the, now practically deserted, river surface as home to thousands of floating macro habitats linking together to form a habitat chain from the Essex marshes to the upper reaches of the tidal Thames.

Practice co-founder John Pegg said: “The Thames is clearly London’s greatest forgotten space. As Peter Ackroyd has pointed out, modern Londoners have ‘no contact with what was once the source and centre of the city’s being’.

“The habitats would comprise marsh, grassland, scrub and wooded habitats unknown in central London for centuries. The submerged profile to the rafts would provide habitat opportunities for fish and molluscs, and would take advantage of the Thames vastly improved water quality to provide a full spectrum of ecological opportunity.”

The rafts would be occasionally beached and flooded to mimic the seasonal and annual fluctuations in inundation and siltation. Urban rafts along the city centre section of the river would provide floating parks, venues and connections to provide revenue and links along the river that are currently missing.

Pegg added: “So, the scheme provides for both ecological and human habitat, making it similar in conception to the artificial beaches built along the Thames in the 1930s.”

The full range of competition entries, including those by JL Gibbons, FoRM, MUF, EAST, Capita Lovejoy, BDP, Vogt, DSDHA and Randle Siddley, can be seen here.

The exhibition of winners and shortlisted schemes is open to the public at the National Theatre until the 4 July.



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