Mark Todd


Marine Renewable Energy Institute

Located on the North East Coast of England, North Shields is a small town that sits quietly at the mouth of the River Tyne.  Within North Shields is Smiths Dock, 30 acres of derelict and contaminated shipyard that dominates 500 meters of the town’s river front – a remnant of the industrial revolution that once set the Tyne at the forefront of British shipbuilding during the late 19th Century.

The thesis project at Smiths Dock proposes an institute for renewable technologies that houses research and development, educational and visitor facilities.  The project reuses the existing fabric of the shipyard by sensitively placing the building within the largest of six dry docks.

The design project at Smiths Dock has been informed but not held captive by its historical context, an abstract interpretation of the past that places form both physically and historically.  With reference to proportion, repetition, material intensity, light, water and the experience of monumentality, the characteristics of past forms and atmospheres at Smiths Dock have been embodied in the realisation of a contemporary building – acknowledging and remembering the legacy of shipbuilding on the Tyne.

The design project strives to counteract the ‘placelessness’ and lack of meaning that have degraded North Shields by referencing the contextual forces of its cultural heritage, thus restoring meaning, identity and a sense of place.