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Silvertown Blues December 8, 2007

Posted by mmonla in Architecture.
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I went on a little eastwards walk the other day to Silvertown in the East End of London. The area is an industrial district that is home to the Tate and Lyle sugar refinery, a few abandoned buildings and a sea of warehouses. I was there mainly to see a small twelve flat affordable housing scheme by Niall McLaughin for the Peabody housing trust. Why? Essentially to see the building’s striking facade: two levels of an iridescent paper-like material produced by 3M are fixed behind the glass on the main elevation. As you walk along the street, even on an overcast day, the building glows like petrol on water.

I find it a bit unfortunate that the idea is in no way reflected inside the flats. You want to believe that it glows on the inside too but in fact the material is simply used as a facade treatment, in a way denying the living areas behind the screen the opportunity to gain from the concept. Having said this, the subtle reference to the history of the site (and its many chemical industries) as the basis for the concept makes this simple building somehow more ‘credible’ than the erase-and-rewind houses around there.

Here are a few pictures that I’ve taken from the architects’ website. Further down, I’ve posted a few pictures that I’ve taken around the area.

Peabody 1 Peabody 2

Pebody 4 Peabody 5

Silvertown 1 Silvertown 2 Silvertown 3 Silvertown 4