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When Jason met Vicky

Part 2 Project 2002
Jason Scoot
Royal College of Art | UK
I first met Vicky, a local prostitute, as she walked from the back of a rubbish container at King’s Cross station. She had no trousers on and her boots lay on the ground before her. Strange, I thought, especially as she was standing between two stationary police vehicles, which happened to be parked in the Transport Police car park. Paradoxically, similar conditions have developed that blur criminal activity with public service and have created an alternative policing structure. Newspaper salesmen carry out surveillance subconsciously mapping behavioural systems created by pimps, prostitutes and the homeless. Contract cleaners, such as Joseph, mimic the ‘Bobby on the beat’ patrolling, unnoticed by the transient commuter and provide safety and reassurance to the immediate community. Policed areas are thus created through non-physical encounters that, in turn, integrate themselves within a diverse and finite community that continuously changes in terms of demographics and pace.

The project proposes to reconfigure the existing canopy at King’s Cross Station into a police landscape. This forms an envelope for the ephemeral climate resulting from the hybridising of Neighbourhood Watch with a physical construct of a police station. It is a landscape that accentuates both visibility and reassurance, where Chris, a contract gardener, can regulate foliage growth levels that assist both criminal and policing conditions. This creates a social garden plate that exaggerates the temporal, unexpected programme of the community and police force.

The WH Smith store will go, to allow for a 24-hour community shop and petrol station. This will double up as the main entrance to the police station, offering off duty amenities for resident police officers who reside in work-live environments in part of the scheme. Existing buildings thus become amalgamated with new police structures that have reflective and time-based moving surfaces that penetrate the social landscape. They amplify the existing conditions that lie above, below and in between. The result is a terrain that acts as a condenser, creating a ‘micro’ village that responds climatically to individual irregularities melding citizen with ‘copper’!

Jason Scoot

The prostitute, Vicky, gets changed in a broken phone box protected by the presence of Joseph the station cleaner, and the newspaper salesmen whose pitch Vicky sometimes takes over to give him a break. Vicky uses the Police car park to turn tricks - it’s a slack space behind the station where she is sheltered by the presence of police cars and the possibility of the occurrence of policemen.

This is one of a number of observations of unconventional and unofficial social regulation recorded by Jason in answering a brief to design a police station. King’s Cross station and the surrounding area is a police hot spot and a potential site of a new type of policing. The strong physical structure of the station contrast with the transience of inhabitation to create intensified and exaggerated social transactions beneath the station canopy.

Jason’s mapping of the way in which desperate communities co-exist suggest a solution that replaced existing canopy at King’s Cross station with a new occupied landscape. The project is about subtle overlooking and barely perceived territories that can enable semi-illicit activity to continue to thrive, whilst maintaining everyone’s safety.

Jason is the most innovative and self-reliant student I have taught in six years. His project, this year, has managed to translate an intrinsic analysis of how different people live in a city (a prostitute, cleaner and policeman) and the way in which they use their relationships to protect each other, into an architectural solution.

• Page Hits: 2472         • Entry Date: 01 July 2002         • Last Update: 01 July 2002