A Rags to Riches Tale About the Thames

MA Architecture Design Project, Royal College of Art 2020 

Cindersmella proposes a narrative based masterplan along the Thames Tideway sites, using an edited version of Cinderella to frame the massive infrastructure project that will clean and restore the river. In doing so, can storytelling raise awareness and political will surrounding issues of sustainability, in light of the Climate Crisis? Can architecture follow fiction in creating a suspension of disbelief?  

Through both its form and content, popular fiction promotes unsustainable desires, outlook and behaviour. Borrowing from Cinderella, perhaps the most famous story ever told, Cindersmella creates a narrative based masterplan. It uses an edited version of the story to depict processes along the Thames Tideway - a new environmental infrastructure project building a super sewer under the River Thames. Cindersemella is a ‘rags to riches’ tale, whereby Cindersmella is the Thames, who has been ill-treated for too long; a slave to human waste, she receives millions of tonnes of sewage each year.  However, the desperately needed Fairy God Mother has come along in the form of the Thames Tideway Project. The Thames Tideway is creating a 25km Super Sewer below the River Thames, which will intercept these nasty sewage spills.

The narrative based masterplan for the super sewer stretches over the Thames Tideway sites, connected via the Thames path. The tale culminates at Beckton Sewage Treatment Works, whereby Cinderella’s ball scene is told across five views, which are superimposed onto the processes of cleaning the water.