One of the pleasures of living on the Isle of Dogs is the “hidden treasures” that are waiting to be discovered. The Storm Water Pumping Station is one of those treasures, When people first come across the Pumping station there is the belief that it is an Eastern Temple, however under closer inspection there are high walls which has slits which gives only glimpses of the “Temple” and locked gates. It is only then you realise it has in fact a rather mundane function, however this did not stop the designer from giving it a mythical design.
The Pumping station was built in 1987-88 designed by John Outram, inside is a quite plain brick pumping chamber with a tank and a control room. The outside however is full of symbolism which is described by the architect.
The steel-tube gate into the fortified compound of the Station is given a form of a giant eye, whose vacant ball can be got to line-up with the ‘solar cave’-between-two-mountains. The two wings of the gate-eye then lie over the two (aetos) ‘eagles-wings’ of the split pediment….
Having ‘tumbled’ down its ‘valley’ the ‘river of space’ passes under the
‘gateway’ to the Valley – embodied by the exaggerated white masonry surrounding
the dark green entrance door. From there it flows outwards, towards the gate to
Stewart Street, or the river Thames on the side of the ‘levee’. It was not
practical to inscribe the figure of the ‘delta’ which lies outside the
‘gateway-door into the building’. Nor could either the street, or the River, be
inscribed with the figure of infinity with which one may recall their ‘bounding’
identity as the ‘death of the valley of community’ by dispersion into the Ocean.
Although considered “Postmodern” in many ways it is also looks back to the Victorian age when seemly unimportant buildings were given ornate and decorative finishes.