Unit 7 - A Mutable Architecture

Unit led by David Grandorge & Colin Wharry

About the show

This year, students of Diploma Unit 7 investigated how buildings can adapt to the changing conditions imposed on them through time. They researched the means by which buildings can respond to changes in their mode of occupation through an understanding of the alterability of their material fabric, their ability to be extended vertically or horizontally and their polyvalence. These themes were addressed in drawn and modelled research into adaptive precedents and, more significantly, in typological design thinking.

The major design project was for a mixed use settlement comprising of spaces for dwelling, working and a public programme, on three sites that occupy the hinterlands of the Hackney Road in East London.

The three sites comprised of working buildings, redundant, incomplete and derelict structures and cleared ground. Students were asked to define the metabolism of these sites, determine the fate of existing structures and make proposals that exploited both new build and adaptive re-use.

Emphasis was given to the formal and spatial language of buildings, opportunistic and serpenditious relationships with context, tectonic and material objectives and the minimisation of buildings’ energy use. Many students tested the mutability of what they designed by demonstrating how their proposals could adapt to (further) changes in use, density and climatic conditions.

The issue of adaptability was explored in a direct fashion in two design competitions held within the studio. The first was for a new gallery in the redundant space formerly occupied by a bank on the ground floor of the school’s new home. This was constructed by students and unit staff in the first weeks of the academic year. The second was for a new garden and shelter on the roof of Central House that would relate to the nearby Whitechapel Gallery and spaces beyond. The chosen scheme for a dia-grid structure fabricated from Accoya is currently the subject of a planning application.

Built projects and design work undertaken in this and previous years can be seen at www.unit7research.com.

Image of Road in London

Exhibition details

P.V. Tuesday 25 June 2013, 6.30-10pm
Opening Wed 26 June - Fri 5 July 2013
Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat 11am-5pm
Venue Spring House (1st Floor)
Unit Architecture Unit 7
Course Professional Diploma in Architecture RIBA Part 2
Architecture (MA)

Year 4

Alan Benzie
Thom Chesshyre
Suzi Pain
Sophia Robson
Stephanie Wilkins
Sarah Willats


Masanori Satoh

Year 5

Michalis Anastasiou
Cara Beveridge
Holly Briggs
Verde Buliani
Ciaran Chapple-Canty
Laura Evans
Angus Goodwin
Paloma Gormley
Duna Irshaid
Robyn Jones
James Lloyd
Jenny Martin
Peter North
John Stiles
Hannah Stringer
Adam Willis
Jade Yianni

Matthew Barton
Matthew Barnett-Howland (MPH Architects)
Peter Karl Becher (Studio Becher)
Audeline Duliere (David Chipperfield Architects)
Prof Tom Emerson (6a Architects)
Chris Foges (Architecture Today)
Ann Griffin (Maccreanor Lavington Architects)
Seamus Lennon (Sergison Bates Architects)
Gerard Maccreanor (Maccreanor Lavington Architects)
James Payne (Archipelago Architects)
Chris Pendrich (Fielden Fowles Architects)
Bex Roberts (Herzog & de Meuron Architects)
Daniel Rosbottom (DRDH Architects)
Stephen Taylor (Stephen Taylor Architects)

Consulting Engineers:

Daniel Dean (Ramboll)
Rebekka Gerbig (Eurban)

Geir Brendeland of Brendeland + Kristoffersen Architects for his hospitality, views shared and advice given during our field trip to Trondheim in Norway.