University of Westminster completes community space at London’s Cody Dock

The Growing Space is a 68m2 Douglas fir lightweight timber structure which adds to the existing cluster of buildings making up Cody Dock’s community hub. It runs a programme to expand the charity’s reach, running gardening and workshops for local schools, as well as space for rent.

The architecture was developed as part of a collaborative process. It has a structure of frames with cross-bracing and dry construction with all elements pre-cut with 3D-printed pegs reducing the construction time to 10 days. The base has six pad foundations with paving slabs, wrapped in polycarbonate, allowing the activities within to permeate out.

An inverted roof creates a gutter for rainwater harvesting, irrigating propagated plants.

Source:Edmund Sumner

The lightweight structure is the outcome of the Live Studio project by the master’s design studio, led by Maria Kramer and Corinna Dean. It is based on several years of Live Project research.

Cody Dock is run by the Gasworks Dock Partnership, which was formed as a social enterprise in November 2009 and registered as a charity in April 2011. It is now home to an artistic community who are transforming the place from dereliction to an area of creativity and production.

From 2015-18, the Gasworks Dock Partnership opened Cody Dock’s gates to over 50,000 visitors and worked with over 6,000 volunteers on the clean up and restoration of its riverside footpaths.

In September 2022, Thomas Randall-Page Studio completed its Cody Dock Rolling Bridge, shortlisted for AJ Small Projects 2023, at the former industrial wharf on the tidal River Lea. The bridge was designed to reopen the dock to the water through the removal of a dam and introduction of a footbridge – one of the last missing links unlocking a footpath running from Hertfordshire to the Thames.

Source:Edmund Sumner

Tutor’s view

The design process was a collaborative effort. Students initially developed individual outline proposals from which we finalised the design in collaboration with our fantastic partners, including structural engineer Steve Webb from Webb Yates, promoting knowledge exchange.

The funding was obtained from the university’s own QHT (Quintin Hogg Trust) fund and I have worked with them on previous Live Projects, including several 1:1 pavilions, which continue to be used by students and staff.

This project is the first time we have built a structure outside the university premises, which was a new challenge. Cody Dock was an enthusiastic partner, with students learning about community-led regeneration and eco-restoration.
Maria Kramer, senior lecturer and architect, University of Westminster


Source:University of Westminster

Project data

Completion 2023
Partners Webb Yates Engineers, Nicholas Alexander, OfCA, Gasworks Dock Partnerships
Funder University of Westminster QHT Fund
Students Rachel Armstrong, Pranjal Bafna, Archie Brown, Galina Dimova, Adam Din, Sean Hamilton, William Lambert, Manu Mohan Mohandas, Aya Nasr, Chris Painter, Megan Rees, Blessing Sulaiman, Falguni Thakkar, Lucy Turner, Hamza Khan, Nicholas Julia Kousoulou, Wladysiak