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Destination Docklands

A former transportation hub fuelling British economics, The Royal Victoria Dock lies to waste alongside the deserted quays and factories; the area remains under siege from continued regeneration efforts, slowly eroding the once thriving London Docklands’ history and leaving behind the murmurs of industrial imprints.

‘Destination Docklands’ seeks to reconnect the remnant memory of the submerged industrial landscape. A Gimbal—a mechanism, typically consisting of rings pivoted at right angles, for keeping an instrument such as a compass or chronometer horizontal in a moving vessel or aircraft—holds the Dock’s spatiality in fragmented balance. Previously a device used for ship navigation, the Gimbal realigns glimpses of the area’s connected history, and its axes pivot perpendicularly, bringing their own relationship and meaning to the Dock. The Gimbal becomes a capsule for the connected ‘players’ of this industrial world.


The industrial pieces rest at their own coordinate and relationship to their fellow players. As the rings turn, the spatial relationships between the industrial worlds are juxtaposed against each other. As these tangible connections teeter on the edge of the Dock’s hemisphere, their world is refocused in moments of realisation, before falling away.

At the core of the Gimbal rests the Royal Victoria Bridge, a modern insert dominating and connecting the sides of the Dock. The Bridge forms the central heliocentric view and stabiliser to the Docklands’ world. The imposing Cranes orbit the centralised dockyards, as they move in parallel cutting through the Dock’s hemisphere. Within this parallel movement, the cranes orbit the remaining traces of factories: the Premier and Millennium Mill.


As the rings turn, the remains of the Premier Mill realign within the second ring, warping the perspective through the Dock. The Millennium Mill joins the Bridge in the central ring manifesting the working relationship of the remaining silos, warehouses and dockyards. The exposed inner workings of the Mill piece together the current reality and history, as the changing viewpoints connect the bread factory’s floors.

In polar opposition one inverted crane hangs from the Dock, representing the touristic remains that rest beside the Excel Centre. From the towering Stothert & Pitt Cranes to the traces of rusted drainage embedded in the cobbles, the history of the London Docklands remains a spectacle yet a forgotten moment in time.

All images courtesy of Emma Colthurst.