And the

Wheels

Keep Turning

Architectural regeneration proposal

Royal College of Art

Tutors: Douglas Murphy and Nicolas Lobo Brennan

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Investigating the condition of the ‘very large’ the speculative project brings car testing and banger racing to the ruins of the Ford Car Factory in Dagenham. A new speedway looks to solidify the thriving but peripheral car cultures of Essex and make relevant  the often misguided ambitions for urban regeneration schemes in London.

View from A13

Responding

to a mood

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What was once the centre of the British Car industry manufacturing over 10 million cars since 1931, is transformed into a network of race tracks facilitating motor sports from drifting, banger racing and demolition derby to Formula 1 and a commercial testing ground. 

Responding to the mood of the site the project is a critical retort to recent 'regenerative' schemes in the borough that overlook locality all together. Projects such as 'Barcelona on Thames' and 'Mini-Manhattan' look to distant 'desirable' locations as drivers for gentrification in one of the most deprived areas of London, rather than considering the existing context.

The Ford Car Plant offers a tremendous post-industrial greyness; where utilitarian buildings  protrude from a landscape scattered with pre-fab offices, pylons and tanks. Meanwhile, in the car sub-cultures of Essex, destruction becomes the desired aesthetic. In our aspirational society that aims for a frictionless way of life these subcultures' chaotic existence is fragile. This project defines an architecture that solidifies this local culture with the mood of the near redundant Ford car plant.

Thurrock racing ground

Detailed Site Plan forweb lines.png

Landscape Drawing

1. Oval Stadium and circulation section

3. F1 track, Test Ring and A13 flyover with open access at ground level

2. Riverside Track Section

Film still

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The overall stripped back materiality of the structure, in-situ concrete structural fins and pre-cast floor plates, relates to the stripped out skeletons of drifting and banger cars where over engineered finishes are removed to cater for the key functions: speed, skidding and friction.

The structure finds a centre of gravity with repeated load bearing walls. The walls can be understood as trusses. 

While the network of tracks has a large reach, what actually touches the ground is very little. It is a sinuous plan on legs and where the backs of the structures skirt past each other, incidentally grand spaces emerge in the framework.

The scheme includes an oval track, a tri-oval, a drag racing strip, a perfect circle constant high speed test track, a formula 1 race track and a mile straight, while the stadia include a double story of car parking with views onto the tracks. 

Exploded Axo of structural strategy

Form

Sectional paper model study: the backs

Trackside

Kissing backs

Rendered Collages

Open Ground Level Pitstops

Rendered Collages

Trackside Carpark

Rendered Collage