Future Cities Summer School

“The students started off shy and ended up presenting some really strong ideas, with confidence. I felt lucky to be involved in the week.”

Ross Schaffer, LDA Design 

Only two percent of the edges of the tidal Thames remains natural, but Deptford Creek in south-east London is one place where you can still wade out onto the tidal river bed (properly equipped and guided, of course). This year, those sloping banks became the sticky focus for the Future Cities Summer School at the University of Greenwich.

Landscape architect Ross Schaffer from LDA Design joined a designer from Gross Max to work with Year 12 students interested in urban design and landscape architecture.

The sixth formers came from all over London and were set the challenge of exploring Deptford Creek, its history and its future. The foreshore is a great habitat for plants and wildlife, in an area of significant regeneration. The students were asked to think about what happens when urban ecology and creek ecology meet, and about the Creek’s relationship with surrounding windows, doors and balconies.

Using clay and digital modelling, the groups presented landscape interventions that would connect people to place and help combat the impacts of sea level rises and a dramatically changing climate.

Desktop analysis of the site was followed by a visit to the Creek to understand the ecological changes and by skills classes, from hand-drawing sections of the site to 3D modelling. The remainder of the week was taken up with modelling landscape propositions in clay to show how the hard edge of the Creek might be changed to make for an ecologically richer environment.

Ross was full of praise for the students, saying: “It was amazing to see them develop over the week. They started off shy and unsure of themselves and ended up presenting some really strong ideas, with confidence. I had a great time and felt lucky to be involved in the week.” 

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