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Aneesah Satriya Stage 4 Master of Architecture Kent School of Architecture

unit 4: site constraints and mobile horizons


rban Landscapes is a 30-credit module in the Autumn/Winter 2012 term; part of the two-year Master of Architecture (MArch), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Part 2 validated course at Kent School of Architecture, The University of Kent.

on understanding our local, global and planetary environment to build a “scaffolding” for an architecture, leading to the Spring term module called the Minor Design Project. The brief is divided into two stages: Stage 1 Unpacking and Stage 2 Possibilities.

This module project explores broad scale issues of site and context, planning and place making. In accordance with the newly-introduced Unit system, both Stage 4 and Stage 5 students are divided into four Units – each with a specific interest and engagement within the complex combination of design/ culture/technology.

The first stage sees the uncovering the allocated site in Dartford, using drawings, photographs and casts, as a thorough analysis with the premise that the site is the client in the project. This booklet presents the resulting findings of this stage.

Unit 4, under the guidance of Dr. Shaun Murray (PhD M.Arch BA ARB), covers a brief termed Site Constraints and Mobile Horizons, with a focus



All photographs and visuals herewith were produced by Aneesah unless otherwise stated.

Site introduction...................................................................... Location drawings.................................................................. Photographic analysis............................................................ Journey mapping................................................................... Neighbouring development.................................................... Infrastructure & surrounding influences................................. Existing parks......................................................................... Historic information – smallpox hospitals............................. Historic information – fireworks factory................................ Environmental analysis – geology......................................... Topography and bathymetry.................................................. Landfill and pollution............................................................. Flood plain............................................................................. Habitat survey........................................................................ Summary of findings..............................................................

4 5 6 14 15 16 20 22 24 26 27 28 29 30 31

table of contents



he town of Dartford is located in the northwest corner of Kent, 26km south-east of central London.

Purfleet Dartford


ve r

R Da iver ren t

4 3

Crayford Marsh

Some existing areas of interest include:




5 6

The site for this Urban Landscape project is the Dartford Marsh, a low-lying open land, bordered by River Thames and River Darent, rich with history and surrounded by industrial and recreational activity. There is also a new business and innovation park called The Bridge, neighbouring to the south.

Dartford Marsh

1 2


7 9



3 4 5 6

Town centre

7 8

Littlebrook Power Station Longreach Sewage Treatment Works Motocross Track - Riverside Dartford Flood Barrier Dartford Clay Shooting Club Abandoned Wells Fireworks Factory Motocross Track - Joyce Green Queen Elizabeth II Bridge The Bridge Business and Innovation Park


The following sections will include further study of the site and its surrounding areas. Bullets in the following lists correspond to annotations on a Journey Map (page 14).


SITE introduction

Satellite imagery via Google Earth. Not to scale.

a Mermaid sculpture on

North Lake, part of The Bridge development b One of about 40+

sheds remaining on the fireworks factory site

d c a

Queen Elizabeth II bridge, as viewed from the river bank near the motocross track

d The Dartford Bridge

Learning and Community Campus, a campus for a primary school and other institutions e


Interior view of a shed that previously served as the electrical substation for Wells Fireworks factory



location drawings


Nucleus Business and Innovation Centre provides 30,000 sq ft of office space.

Bus access is via Fastrack, route A, up to Marsh St, but public transportation to the northern areas of the marshes (including the fireworks factory) is unavailable.

Foot/cycle paths provided allows access to this unused space.



Land around Dartford is generally flat, providing not-so great horizon views from human eye level.

Littlebrook Power Station’s 215m tall chimney, the fourth tallest chimney in the UK, is one of the more obtrusive elements of the Dartford skyline.

One of several lots of land marked for commercial development.

03 October 2012 f Panorama from Marsh St,

near North Lake looking towards Littlebrook Power Station.

Land marked for future residential development.

There will be a total of 1,500 units of new housing at The Bridge: apartments as well as 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom houses.

03 October 2012 g Panorama from The Bridge

residential area, looking North East.


The northern half of Joyce Green lane is pedestrian- and cycle-only, with unremarkable views of fields.

Most sheds had a tree situated next to them, which now have grown over and into the buildings.


The bridge remains one of the few focal points visible throughout the walking route in this area.

These sheds, spaced apart from one another, each had specific functions in the manufacturing process. They are now in various states of disrepair.

Shooting club has a few small, scattered buildings.

28 October 2012 h Panorama from Joyce

Green Lane, near Dartford Clay Shooting Club looking towards Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.

Ground within the site tended to be very wet and covered in long grass.

28 October 2012 i Panorama of what was

previously Wells Fireworks factory, off Joyce Green Lane.


River view is acceptably pleasant especially with the glimpses of wildlife (we saw a seal!) and birds.

The whole stretch of the riverbank is incredibly muddy, not allowing for any comfortable or lengthy stay.


Two parallel paths on the banks – the unpaved one has a tendency to become muddy.

The Dartford Creek Flood Barrier joins the Littlebrook Power Station chimney as two of the tallest structures visible on the horizon.

28 October 2012 j 360° panorama from

path on the raised flood defences along the river.

Access to this level is via a slight slope down from the raised bank.

28 October 2012 k Panorama from the most

accessible part of the riverbank.


28 October 2012 Night view of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, taken from Marsh St.


3 October 2012 A few of the fields surrounding the site (this one is by GlaxoSmithKline) are used for cattle grazing. m

3 October 2012


‘Contemporary’ style of houses in The Bridge.


28 October 2012 o 360째 panorama of

North Eastern side of the fireworks factory.

25 November 2012 o

p Four sheds that remain on

the factory site.

28 October 2012 q Joyce Green lane, facing




This map shows the routes I took across the site in two separate visits. Both journeys started with a train ride from Canterbury East station. On one occasion, I took a bus (Fastrack Route A) from Dartford train station to Marsh St l . For the second visit onwards, we took a taxi and stopped along Joyce Green Lane, at the entrance to the Fireworks Factory e .



b p

am wa y




e Lan een Joyce Gr

Annotations on the map correspond to the previous photos and sketches.


His tori c Tr

The marshes proved to be a vast site and a long walkaround (four hours spent exploring the marshland). The views walking by the river were pleasant, although physically, the dirt path and muddy bank did not make it a comfortable walk.







n l

Ma rsh Str ee t

journey mapping

Satellite imagery via iOS Maps. Not to scale.


Sainsbury’s 740,000 sq ft distribution centre.

Open space consisting of formal landscaping, wildlife habitat, networks of footpaths and cycle ways and sculptures from reclaimed materials. The Learning & Community Campus, a very colourful building which houses a primary school, nursery, youth centre, adult education and community facilities. Premier Inn hotel and accompanying restaurant.

The Nucleus Business and Innovation Centre: 30,000 sq ft of office space.

Site for future housing development.

SusCon is a sustainable construction training and research centre, part of North West Kent College. They currently offer diploma and certification courses. Aerial image via

The Bridge is a mixed-use business and innovation park to the south of the Dartford Marshes. Parts of the development are under construction while several plots of land are still vacant. This area is accessible from the town centre via a bus service. The largest portion of the site is reserved for residential development: 1,500 new homes together with a range of services and leisure facilities. I found the open area with the three lakes quite attractive, with various birds, wildlife and pedestrian/cycling paths provided.

neighbouring development


ford 4 Dartd ier Floo Barr

Trunk Road

Secondary Road


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Primary Road

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Jo yc e

Power Lines

G re en

La ne


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Cl a yS ho oti


Fastrack ‘A’ Bus Route

rks wo ) e r i d s F ne ell do W ban (a

Bus Stops Flight Paths


7 Motocross Track Joyce Green

Bob Dunn Way


infrastructure & Surrounding influences






Pe E tro SS leu O m Co .

Riv er Th am es


Ma Civil & rine Jett y

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Marsh Street North

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Map information via OpenStreetMap. Terminal information via Terminal Map - Port of London Authority. Not to scale.

• The A206 Bob Dunn Way was formerly University Way and before that the Dartford Northern Bypass. • Fastrack buses connect The Bridge (the new development) to Temple Hill (a residential area), Dartford town centre, Dartford and Greenhithe train stations and Bluewater shopping centre. • Access to the Marshes is via Joyce Green Lane – but vehicular access stops at the point of the Dartford Clay Shooting Club. The lane then becomes a foot and cycle path. • There is a double bank along the river as flood defences. Each also acts as a foot/cycle path. • Data from www. shows that this section of the River Thames is frequently utilised by cargo vessels and tug boats. • displays live air traffic information – there are quite a few flight paths over Dartford, as confirmed during our site visits.



Littlebrook Power Station

An oil-fired power station that began operating in 1981, currently owned and operated by RWE npower. Previously, there existed several coalfired power stations since the 1930s. It operates as an opted out station under the Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD). As an ‘opted out’ plant, Littlebrook must close by the end of 2015. The oil is delivered to the station by a sea-going tanker to a jetty on the river, from which it is piped to large storage tanks. Each of the two boilers can burn up to 4,500 tonnes of heavy fuel oil each day. The heat produced converts water into steam in the tubes that line the boiler. Fine dust is removed from the boiler gases by an electrostatic precipitator before passing up the 215m-tall chimney. The steam from the boiler passes through the blades of the turbine’s high pressure stage, turning the blades and turbine shaft at 3,000 revolutions per minute. The turbine shaft is linked to the generator, which creates an electric current. The spent steam goes to the condenser, where it is turned back into water and pumped back to the boiler for re-use.



Longreach Sewage Treatment Works


Motocross Track - Riverside

It is a sludge treatment centre that serves a catchment area of 518km² with a current population equivalent of 836,593. It receives flows from parts of Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Dartford, Sevenoaks, Tandridge and Tonbridge and Malling.

A family-run business providing a safe and wellorganised motocross track facility. There are two tracks: a junior track (non-sessioned) for bikes and quads up to 85cc with an age limit of 17, and a main track (20-min sessions according to cc size) which is over a mile long with a good selection of The treatment process comprises 6mm two- jumps. There is also a small spares shop, a food dimensional fine screens, constant velocity grit van and toilets on site. The tracks operate on channels, screenings conditioning and grit washing Wednesdays and weekends. facilities, primary sedimentation tanks, aeration lanes using diffused air aeration, final settlement 4 Dartford Flood Barrier tanks, return activated sludge/surplus activated sludge pumping stations, sludge treatment, storm tanks and pumping station, washwater pumping stations and distribution systems, and an outfall to the River Thames. In Spring 2010, Thames Water started work on a £40million upgrade as part of a major scheme to help improve water quality in the river. They claim that this upgrade would also increase oxygen levels and renewable energy from the sewage treatment process, reduce odour and improve the landscape. Aerial images via Bing Maps 3D.

The Dartford Creek flood Barrier forms part of an extensive flood protection scheme providing protection to around 2000 residential properties and over 750 commercial properties in and around Dartford. It is a twin leaf, vertical lift gate barrier. Each gate leaf weighs around 150 tonnes and is suspended on synchronised roller chains, lifted and lowered by electro-hydraulic winches. 5


Motocross Track - Joyce Green

Queen Elizabeth II. It is the second largest cablestayed bridge in the UK and the 44th largest in the world. It is the southbound element of the Dartford Crossing, built alongside two earlier tunnels under the Thames which now form the northbound element of the crossing. The highest point of the road deck rises 65 m above the river, giving a clearance below to shipping of 57.5 m to accommodate all but the largest ocean-going cruise liners. The height of the bridge means that it is sometimes closed due to high winds, accidents or in bad weather. Unlike other major bridges, the traffic disruption that this causes can be mitigated in part by the diversion of traffic through one of the Dartford tunnels. Despite this, a closure still generates significant delays.

Dartford Clay Shooting Club

Consists of four tracks based on natural terrain, includes a 100ft table top, medium ski jump and flat bends. Seems to cater more towards beginners compared to Riverside MX, and does not allow quads or mini bikes. Facilities include car park and food cabin. Tracks operate on weekends and are The average daily traffic across the bridge is closed during winter. estimated at 72,700 in 2007/2008. 8

Queen Elizabeth II Bridge

A very popular clay pigeon shooting venue with a range of shooting disciplines including Skeet (English & NSSA), Olympic Trap, Automatic Ball Trap, Compak, Down The Line and Sporting. They operate Wednesday to Sunday. Skeet shooting is also available at night time once a month on Thursdays. Includes a clubhouse serving food, gun room and shop. A 137 m high and 812 m long cable-stayed road bridge across the River Thames, opened in 1991 by


Local Wildlife Sites Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Dartford Heath A2 Dartford

Hesketh Park Park Road Dartford Central Park Market Street Dartford Darenth Country Park Gore Road Dartford Beacon Wood Country Park Southfleet Road Bean


existing parks

Map via Kent Landscape Information System – Not to scale.

Images via

Dartford Heath

• 14 acres • area of outstanding natural beauty • three ponds: Donkey Pond, Woodland Pond and North Pond • habitats include: acid grassland, broadleaved semi-natural woodland, heather, dwarf gorse, orchids and a rare Kentish plant, petty whin • The Tuesday Group carry out practical conservation tasks on the Heath • historic significance

• • • •

26 acres Darenth Country Park part of town centre, near library and museum mix of sports facilities, gardens and open space Ecology Island, a magical, wild, wooded peninsula dedicated to the study of the natural environment within an urban context • features: skate park, tunnel between park and lake, water playground, iron bridges, cafe, war memorial, climbing net, aerial runway, climbing wall, graffiti wall, enclosed ball games area, CCTV monitoring Hesketh Park

Central Park

• 100 acres • site formerly Darenth Asylum • once the site of ancient Saxon burials: over the years a total of 12 graves have been discovered complete with Saxon objects including a spearhead, brooches and a completely intact glass bowl dating back to AD450. • Sites of Special Scientific Interest • features: Chapel Orchard, horse grazing paddocks, picnic area Beacon Wood Country Park

• 13 acres • home to the Dartford Cricket Club, Hesketh Park Bowls Club and Crackenford Hockey Club • features: tennis courts, children’s playground, climbing equipment, a bike track, enclosed ball games / basketball court, historic sun dial, secluded space called Dell

• 70 acres • former industrial claypit: beds of sandstone, sandy clays and fossils • in the late 19th Century the EC Powder Company manufactured smokeless gun powder here • Site of Nature Conservation Interest: unusual species of animals and plantlife


The point on the bank of the River Thames called Long Reach, as well as parts of the Dartford marshes are rich with history related to the smallpox outbreaks in London which began in the 1800s. Smallpox was an airborne disease transmitted through face-to-face exposure with an infected person or their personal clothing or bedding. Clearly it was very contagious, so isolation fever hospitals sited away from main areas of population were set up to treat patients. The hospital ships, Long Reach Hospital, Orchard Hospital and Joyce Green Hospital are all no longer standing today, but their history and memory may well provide insightful information and inspiration for the future of the development of Dartford.

Map ca. 1910 via Edina Digimap. Not to scale.



Hospital Ships

The three ships were moored in a line with the Endymion in the centre, and were connected to each other by a gangway which allowed for the movement and sway of the vessels. Long Reach Pier connected the ships to the few service buildings on shore, which included accommodation for some of the nursing staff, storerooms and a laundry.

Joyce Green’s unique ambulance-tramway, initially horse drawn, was used to carry patients and supplies and linked all the hospitals. The tramway continued in use until around 1936. The pier was also demolished in 1936.

It was decided to build a land-based smallpox hospital at Long Reach to replace the ships and provide more beds for patients. Building work on the Joyce Green Hospital began in 1901, just as another smallpox epidemic broke out in London. The smallpox epidemic which began in 1881 placed great strain on available hospital beds in London. To ease the situation the Metropolitan Asylums Board (MAB) chartered two old wooden warships to be converted into hospital ships; the Atlas, a 91-gun man-of war built in 1860 and the Endymion, a 50-gun frigate built in 1865. Initially moored off Deptford Creek in Greenwich, the ships were moved away from the city in 1883 to new moorings at Long Reach, where they were joined by the former crossChannel paddle steamer Castalia in 1884.

The smallpox ships finally became redundant in 1903 when the Joyce Green and the other river hospitals began to open. After twenty years of service, the ships were auctioned off for scrap in 1904. Long Reach, Orchard and Joyce Green In the autumn of 1901, after construction of the Joyce Green had begun, London suffered a severe outbreak of smallpox. Since the new hospital was nowhere near being able to take in patients, two temporary smallpox hospitals were erected in the vicinity. The Long Reach, which opened in February 1902, was located on land immediately to the east of the Long Reach Pier buildings. The Orchard was situated to the north-west of the Joyce Green site. At the southeast of the site were stables and a coach house.

Demolition of the redundant hospital buildings, covering 260 acres, was carried out in 2001 by Econ Construction Ltd., on behalf of their client, Carillion Special Projects. McAlpine Plc, who were tasked to level the site and lay services ready for the new build (The Bridge) have fenced off specialist trees and shrubs in an effort to preserve the environmental heritage. There is also a Joyce Green cemetery nearby and a cobbled pathway running from the hospital. By 2005 the cemetery, wild and overgrown, was offered to the Community of Temple Hill, for a nominal fee. The Trust wish to leave the land as a woodland, preserving and enhancing the ecology and wildlife while respecting the graves in situ. The cobbled ambulance-tramway still exists today. The rich story of these hospitals is recounted at


On a plot of land on the marshes, off Joyce Green Lane, sits the derelict factory of Wells Fireworks. (There were also other companies at different times, including Astra, Unwins and Moonlight.) The company was founded by Joseph Wells in 1837 in Dartford. After operating for a century and a half, in the late 1970s it became financially impossible to compete with the now widely available Chinese imports and Wells was forced to shut its manufacturing plant in Dartford. Led by Stuart Orr, a chemist at the plant, some of the employees took the Wells brand and moved the operation to West Sussex. In 1989 the Dartford factory was fully abandoned. The actual remains of a number of original buildings from the former factory still stand. The corrugated iron sheds, which for obvious reasons were spaced apart from one another, survive in an overgrown landscape of elder bushes and buddleia.


Hydraulic press shed


Chemical store

Picrate shedwhistles

Chemist laboratory

Packing shed

Boiler house

Garage & engineering workshop

Washroom & showers Rolling shed

General purpose finishing shed Filling box selections

Sparkler materials store

Electrical substation

Kro-scare rope assembling Black charging of shop goods

Sparkler parking

End crimping & cracker folding

Black charging of display goods

Black drying shed Aerial imagery via Bing Maps 3D. Former functions of shed via

Sparkler dipping & drying

Small rocket filling shed Sparkler frame & wire assembly

Catherine wheel filling shed

Sewage pump Sewage pump

HISTORIC INFORMATION – fireworks factory

Entrance to site of fireworks factory - we had to slip through the gate

Aerial view of the factory from 1960, via

Interior of a storage shed.

Wide-angle view of the interior of one of the sheds used for assembly and filling

Panoramic view of derelict factory

Overgrowth of buddleia around and within the site.

Wells at Amberley crew dismantling a shed from the site to be erected at the museum in Sussex. Photo via

The site is currently owned by the University of Greenwich and – according to Managing the Marshes Project by the Bexley Council – is awaiting contamination studies before investigation into the purchase of land by Groundwork Kent Thameside. Their long term action is to provide controlled visitor access, interpretation and habitat restoration. From online look-ups, it appears that a charity had been in the process of rescuing some of the buildings and erecting them as a Fireworks Museum at Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre in Sussex (, no longer accessible). Also found were efforts by the UK Pyrotechnics Society (www. to revive the site as a pyrotechnics club, but due to various issues including finances and neighbouring properties, the plan did not come to fruition.


Superficial deposit: Alluvium - Silty Peaty Sandy Clay. Local environment previously dominated by rivers.

Superficial deposit: Taplow Gravel Formation Sand And Gravel.

Bedrock: Seaford Chalk Formation And Newhaven Chalk Formation - Chalk. Local environment previously dominated by warm chalk seas.

Superficial deposit: Head - Clay, Silt, Sand And Gravel. Local environment previously dominated by subaerial slopes.

Soil pH for Dartford Marshes: pH 1978: 6.42 pH 1998: 6.65 pH 2007: 7.05 Overall: neutral to slightly acidic.


environmental analysis – geology

Data via British Geological Survey – Not to scale.

Data via Edina Digimap and Not to scale.

topography and bathymetry


Historic landfill: Leycroft Gardens Historic landfill: North West Crayford Marshes

Reported pollution incident: Major

Reported pollution incident: Significant

Air pollution: Carbon dioxide Industrial pollution: Water

Authorised landfill: Crayford Marshes Landfill, Erith Da8

Industrial pollution: Fuel and Power

Air pollution: Nitrogen oxide

Industrial pollution: Radioactive

Historic landfill: Kennett Road

Historic landfill: Littlebrook Power Station

Historic landfill: Creek Works


landfill and pollution

Industrial pollution: Waste

Historic landfill: Stone Marshes

Data via Environment Agency – Not to scale.

Flood defences Unprotected area: Would be flooded with or without defences

Protected area: Would be flooded without defences Protected area: Would be flooded without defences in extreme flood cases

Data via Environment Agency – Not to scale.

flood plain


Coastal Habitats

Intensive Grassland

Arable Land Neutral Grassland


Freshwater Habitat


habitat survey

Data via Kent Landscape Information System and Not to scale.

These findings from the site have resulted in seven A1 drawings of three scales: Macro scale, Human scale and Micro scale. The style and method of these images draw reference from the works of Perry Kulper, the concept of mappa mundis and the layers within palimpsests.






Throughout the investigations into the findings, including site visits, I selected three main strategies or tactics to focus on and help define the project: 1. Views / focal points 2. Routes / access 3. (Current and past) objects on the landscape. These drawings would be the base for the production of a next set of drawings for Stage 2: Possibilities, where the scaffolding for the architecture is developed further.






summary of findings


Urban Landscape Stage 1  

Findings booklet.

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