Sensory Docks

Landscape Institute Design Competition


Project Team
Kay Pallaris, Jamie Abbott, Francesco Bernabei, Nick Udal, Briony Turner, Mena Shah, Francesca Guarascio and Luis Rojas

This project was one of the shortlisted entries for the 2014 Royal Docks water-sensitive design competition led by the Landscape Institute. The Sensory Docks concept reasserts the human-scale of experience within this immense setting. Smell and taste have a special relationship with memory. Noise and sight are connected to our perceptions of place and feelings of happiness. What we see affects our sense of touch. One may appreciate a sense of closeness and warmth as much as a sense of openness and freedom, yet too much of either may create a feeling of claustrophobia or emptiness. Our somatic senses are affected by the microclimate that design creates, affecting our sense of comfort and safety, and in turn both our physical and our emotional well-being. Equipped with this empirical knowledge, our project instilled principles of sensory design to reconceive the insensitive environment created by transport infrastructure projects such as Crossrail; the severance created by the Crossrail wall instead becomes a sensory wall, forming the inner green loop which takes visitors (walkers and cyclists) through the neighbourhood of North Woolwich, connecting them down towards the Riverside walkways of the Thames. In this way, the urban design weaknesses are transformed into opportunities for cultural events, commercial activity and recreation.