Hyesung Lee

hyesung.lee.19@ucl.ac.uk

Located at southeast coast of England, Margate had thrived as the forefront of British seaside holiday town which was full of playful elements such as its beachside, the amusement park, seaside arcades and the crowded high street until 1980s. However, alternative holiday options to abroad due to cheaper transportation and the recession let the ludic town decline over the years, and consequently many parts of the town have been abandoned and left empty losing its vitality. 

The proposal aims to revive a once-ludic Margate by focusing on restoring its forgotten spaces. Abandoned buildings of the city become material quarries and the collected waste is reused to manufacture new objects that slot into neglected spaces, creating an archipelago of expanded public islands. This archipelago is not a mere symphony of playful installations, but resourceful places where further material dérive is conceived and redirected to create a vibrant network that composes the Magic Circle of Margate. 

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As a Victorian seaside town, Margate attracted thousands of holidaymakers and it thrived into the 1960s and 70s. When the tourists stopped coming, the retail shops started declined and a number of the shops have been left empty. Unemployment stands at about 16% and Margate has one of the highest numbers of people dependent on benefits in the country.  


The shop owners were unable to withstand the recession and were forced to shut down their business, resulting in shops left empty, neglected and abandoned for years. The number of closed retails outnumbered the number of surviving shops in Margate’s High Street since the 2000s, which makes it one of the towns which most suffered from the recession. 

Through careful crushing, shifting and cutting of the existing structure, the abandoned building becomes a material quarry. The collected waste is reused to create new objects, and they are slotted into the existing structure, bringing it back to life. Collected concrete from the demolition process of the existing building is recycled into light-weight concrete mixed with recycled aggregate such as waste concrete, plastic trash, and discarded shopfront glass. The assembled objects are inserted where the existing concrete slab is cut out.

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The project explores further visions of the urban area with wider context. Starting with the community hub building, further collection and recycling of waste throughout the city creates more materials for construction. The newly manufactured objects are inserted on the existing facade of empty shops replacing the old shopfront, and they spread beyond the street at some point. This archipelago of objects function as not only playful installations, but also collection points of aggregate to make construction material, in turn creating a vibrant network connecting the fragmented city.

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©2019 by UNIT 17, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL