‘Pastoral Concrete: a celebration of the decadence of milk’ explores combining the functionalist architecture of a dairy farm with the eccentric ritual of milk bathing. The brutal concrete structures of the farm sit within the pastoral landscape of the grazing fields, to which the bathing pools are orientated. The baths become the moment of intrigue within this functionalist landscape.
The project is sited on Walthamstow Marshes in the Lea Valley, London. The Lea Valley has a rich farming heritage and was once described as the breadbasket of London. The Walthamstow Marshes are considered part of this productive landscape and, historically, were used to grow hay and outside of the hay season used to graze cattle. The proposal addresses the farming heritage of the Lea Valley and the recent decline in the production of the area by reinstating dairy cattle to the marshland, which have been absent for almost a century. The dairy farm continues the existing waterways of the Lea Valley through the site by the introduction of lakes and wadding pools. These in turn link visually to the milk pools, which are orientated towards the dairy farm.
The dairy farm is combined with a series of milk pools ranging from raw milk served at body temperature for drinking to cold milk bathing pools. These pools explore milk as an elixir to give vitality and strength and consider the recent resurgence of the drinking of raw milk and the use of milk proteins and fats in beauty products. The pools seek to treat the body internally and externally. The anatomy of the bathing pools mirror the unique ruminant digestive systems of cattle, where the four stomachs are translated into four pools. The process of regurgitation by cattle is translated into the ritual of bathing and the controlled movement of bathers through the pools.
The proposal can be considered as a time-based architecture where the ritual of milk bathing becomes the central force within the building, where the movement of cattle and bathers becoming intertwined. The two programmes converge twice daily at the moment of milking and the release of milk into the pools, at which point the waterfalls of raw milk provide a spectacle within the milk chamber.
Henrietta graduated with distinction from the University of Westminster in June 2011. Before starting her post-graduate studies Henrietta worked for two years at Fashion Architecture Taste (FAT) in London. Whilst at FAT she led the delivery of FAT's design for Selfridges new contemporary womenswear department, 'Third Central'.