Author : Pamela Poh Sin Tan

University : The University of Greenwich

Status : MArch II, 2015

Advisors : Max Dewdney, James A. Craig

Title : The Soil City

Greenwich marsh has been owned mainly by charities since the seventeenth century. It is valuable land and has been exploited for commerce. These charities saw the investment potential of sites near the capital city and with excellent access to the River and trades routes. From around 1800 riverside areas of the marsh were developed and industry moved in at a rapidly increasing pace until around the time of the Overend Gurney banking crash of 1866.

From the 1870s the pace began to slacken and in the twentieth century there was a long slide into service industries which themselves collapsed as the upriver docks in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1990s we have the Millennium Dome.

– Mary Mills, Greenwich Marsh. The 300 years Before the Dome

The Soil City is an imagined [ future city ] where the once abundant natural resource of Top soil is running out. The Soil City imagines that the extinction of top soil is imminent, and that a [ new civilisation ] has set about the difficult task of cultivating, and protecting, this newly valuable commodity. The project imagines a society which is structured around the high value associated to topsoil, where the wealthy store miniature gardens in the vaults of the central soil bank, and where workers dredge through the domestic organic waste dumping grounds on the periphery of Greenwich Peninsula in an attempt to speed up the process of soil production. The Soil City takes a critical stance on dissolution of natural resources and the impending high value associated with its demise. While The Soil City celebrates [ all things of soil], it is also mired in a certain doom – an end to the natural growth of things.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Pamela Poh Sin Tan_ To be aware of the coming extinction of Top soil and question the future civilisation that will have to deal with this.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
PPST_ Fiction and values in all form.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
PPST_ I learn to look at the world in more depth and that architecture has greater role to play in the creation of future mankind. Besides that, it’s ability of storytelling, speculate and discuss the people’s desire and undesired kind of future. Architecture embodies the knowledge of philosophy, creation from all science and art, culture and human values.

S//A : Describe your dream project
PPST_ The kind that allows me to.