Dorothy represents many people in London, as she feels isolated, but wishes to be around people of all ages. Framing the project around women like Dorothy gives the proposal the responsibility to engage Dorothy, and make room for her to engage with other people, of all ages. While the project is framed for Dorothy, it is also a mirror that reflects our future selves.
Brick Lane is not designed for older adults, and this is why it is perfect for our older selves. Brick Lane does not pity older people, which provides an opportunity to create an environment where young and old are equal. By inviting them to Brick Lane, they can escape their often beige environments for relentlessly colourful Brick Lane. Brick Lane’s lively graffiti, markets, and youth motivate the familiar yet surprising and ever-evolving tangible activities that Dorothy and the younger generations can teach each other in and take care of together: tea gardening, knitting, and graffiti art.
Knitting and tea gardening may be commonly associated with older people, comfort, safety, seemingly slow, sometimes boring. Graffiti may be associated with colourful, youthful risky vandalism, creating spaces that older people may be afraid of. Both of these prove to be misconceptions. In this proposal, they are not so different, they are all vibrant, they all craft a particular, personal, caring experience, and they both evolve over time. They become the mechanisms to bring young and old together. There are young people knitting, gardening, enjoying tea, and there are older graffiti artists colouring their environments. There are people combining these activities, such as yarn bombing, also called “kniffiti”.
The architecture offers a scaffold that provides access and views while empowering people to personalize and care for each surface with their craft and their companions. To create the scaffold, a natural grid comes from the existing Seven Stars Alley, where there are 9 x 3 graffiti murals on the walls. The scaffold grows from this, framing the ground level murals.
Simple construction reveals the craft of the architecture itself, while the evolving surfaces offer a blank canvas for graffiti, yarn, or greenery. While the surfaces can be clipped on as the public likes, it follows a logic within the scaffold to maintain the views and access. The tower's southern side allows the most light for the plants to grow, and the northern wall offers the most surface for the graffiti to accumulate and create a painted facade from the street. The inner walls are a combination of garden, knitting, and graffiti, so mediums blur while their creators blur.
The circulation pulls people from Brick Lane into the alley, and lifts them up into the tower, that is fitted to be a thin, unimposing wedge between the existing buildings. The ramp allows a slow promenade around each perimeter, giving first access into the preschool to the south, then access into the Global Street Art Foundation to the north. The ramp spins out of the scaffold in two moments to give Dorothy a view of the neighbourhood.
The grid of the scaffold creates living room modules that people can plug their activities into. While Dorothy was originally invited to the tower, she and her friends eventually become the keepers of the tower, taking time to care for the space and in return, she has a comfortable interiorized home plug in. These private rest spaces are the only predetermined volumes in the scaffold, and each floor has at least one public bathroom plug in.
While Dorothy has certain needs to accommodate her, such as a 60” turning radius for her wheelchair, the tea plant has similar needs. The tea plant, which produces all black, green, red, and oolong teas, fits in this plug in, while the herbal teas have different requirements as shown. These plants are fitted on the south wall, patterning the facade.
The living rooms provide one on one interaction, or small group gatherings, throughout the tower, while three larger public zones allow rest, a place to enjoy your tea, and a place to store your belongings. These spaces welcome new comers to mix their belongings with the locals, and whether they are knitters, gardeners, or painters, everyone occupies these space together.