Site Analysis Part 2: Industrial History

EDINA Historic Map
Greenwich & Deptford Creek
EDINA Historic Map
Lower Isle of Dogs
EDINA Historic Map
Greenwich Marshes & Cubitt Town

Analysis of historical maps show that the sites were heavily used for shipbuilding and manufacturing, and featured many wharfs and docks.

Before the building of the docks, the wharves made up the port of London. Thanks to steam power, trade was booming, taking place on the increasingly busy river Thames. As trade expanded, the wharves and quays became too congested, which led to the building of the first enclosed docks in the 19th century. By 1899 there were over 300 wharves in London, dealing with both high-value goods and specialist items. The wharves further towards Greenwich often served the industrial companies in the area, such as the gasworks, and frequently dealt with items of specialist machinery.

A wharf in Greenwich

The maps from the 1860s show that Greenwich town centre did not have much industrial activity, which instead was located in surrounding sites. Towards Deptford and along Deptford Creek there were numerous wharves, as well as large iron shipbuilding yards, and several manufacturing sites, including soap works and engine works. Two gasworks were also sited in this location.

Across the river on the Isle of Dogs, the situation was much the same, with a high proportion of wharfs. Earthenware, varnish, iron, chains and anchors and cement were amongst the items manufactured, that would have been distributed via the wharves. The Cubitt Town side of the site had a high number of ship building yards.

Across the river at Greenwich Marshes, now Greenwich Peninsula, there was a stronger precedent of manufacturing, again with soap, cement, iron, steel and chemical works.

With the closure of the docks in the late 1900s was a great decline in industrial activity in the area, and a mass transformation into the high quality residential and commercial use seen today. However, the area still has a distinctive ‘docklands’ identity associated with its past, reinforced by the original riverside wharf buildings that remain. Through the redevelopment of the former industrial sites, a new ‘dockland vernacular’ has emerged.

Further reference:




Fractal Mesh



I was finally able to export a test segment of my fractal 3D model from Mandelbulb to Rhino. This was done via a process of creating small slices of the model via Voxel slices, linking the slice sequence together in Fiji (ImageJ) and then creating an obj file.

Next steps: choose and export more components from the fractal model, and use these to create the folly as it will sit on the site.

Site Analysis Part 1: Land Use

To inform the placement of the folly I collected some information about the historical and modern land use of the Greenwich Park site.

1st Century AD
The earliest known man made structure on the site is the remains of a Romano-Celtic temple, which would have been in use until the 4th century. There was also a Roman road, Watling Street (London to Dover), which ran through the site. The temple may have been part of a military post by the road.

500s AD
Anglo-saxon burial mounds are present on the site dating from this period.

Roman ruins site, burial mounds, Watling Street

871 – 1414 AD
King Alfred inherited Greenwich. His daughter later presented it to the Abbey of St Peter at Ghent in 918. In 1414 the land reverted back to King Henry V.

The park was enclosed with a fence, making it the first enclosed royal park. At the time it contained 200 acres of scrub land, pasture, wood, heath and gorze. During the Medieval period, some of the park had been used as pastures for sheep, cattle and pigs. The enclosed park became a royal retreat for the Tudors.

Henry VIII introduced deer to the park for royal hunts.

The Queen’s House was commissioned. It originally bridged the road from Deptford to Woolwich, to allow the royals to get to the park without interacting with the public.

The park, previously a Renaissance style garden, was landscaped into formal gardens in a semi-Baroque style by Charles II, with a grass parterre designed by Andre Le Notre and a network of avenues. There was also a flight of giant steps leading up Observatory Hill, continuing the axis of the masterplan.

A hint of the giant steps in the hill can still be seen in certain conditions.

Royal Observatory commissioned.

The park began to be opened to the public for certain events like fairs, and an event where the public would gather to ‘tumble’ down the Giant Steps and hill. By this time the formal garden and avenues had become unpopular, and instead Serpentine spaces were in fashion.


The park was permanently opened for public use. From the Serpentine style spaces a more Gardenesque style arose. The green space was preserved as a refuge during the Industrial Revolution.

Landscape typologies

The Meridian was established. It was adopted after an international conference in 1884.

Mid 1900s
The view of London from the park made it a perfect strategic location to accommodate anti-aircraft stations during World War II, used to attack planes attempting to follow the Thames into London.

The park is used for recreation, and contributes significantly to Greenwich’s tourism industry.

While there has been some military and agricultural use of the park site, for the large majority of its history it has been used for recreational purposes, whether royal or public. This sets a good precedent for placing follies on the site, which would add to the tourism industry in Greenwich and be somewhat reminiscent of the large public fairs of the 1700s.



Precedent: Michael Hansmeyer

I was shown this TED Talk as a precedent for my project, as the work discussed involves the same process of creating architectural shapes through computer software using mathematical formulas and algorithms – in this case folding surfaces rather than fractals. Michael Hansmeyer’s work also deals with the same issues that I find myself facing in my project: how to physically translate the digital creations.

One thing I found particularly interesting was the way in which they chose to create the columns, which are extremely complex in shape. Rather than use 3D printing, they instead laser cut 1mm thick slices to create the same effect.

Another thought-provoking point discussed in the talk was that of being able to ‘breed’ architecture – through the nature of the work process they could combine different forms to create new ‘generations’ of columns, building up a population of sorts.


Fractal Exploration

The above animation takes us through the 3D fractal space. This was created with Mandelbulb 3D and Premiere Pro.

I found some difficulties animating with Mandelbulb. It’s quite difficult to see from a quick render preview what effect changes to the formulas will have, and the changes ended up being very abrupt in the animation. It’s also not ideal that the output is a series of rendered images that then have to be turned into the animation in separate software. I am also looking for a level of control over the output that I am finding tricky to achieve in Mandelbulb. My next step will be to try to export the base 3D model to a different software to work further with it.

Mandelbulb 3D – animation process