Studio 07: Open City

Studio brief

Cities do their best to heal society's divisions of race, class and ethnicity. They should be clean, safe, efficient, dynamic, open, but currently, we make cities into closed systems, with civic institutions built as isolated campuses. This results in people fleeing decaying parts rather than re-investing in them. The current situation in Athens reflects this, with many thousands of abandoned or empty buildings. However, renewing the inner city most often begins by displacing the people who have lived there before.

Studio 07 seeks to understand context, both physical and environmental, as well as cultural, social and political. We seek openness in our design methods and process, as well as engagement with city-making and the people who live in them. In thinking about the city we refer to ‘context’ as being a polite but potent word in repressing anything that doesn't fit in; context insuring that nothing sticks out, offends or challenges.

Three years after Greece closed its borders during the height of the migration crisis, we are now examining a different situation in Athens and will ask students to closely observe, engage and make architectural proposals and interventions that respond appropriately to the rapidly changing nature of the city and its new arrivals. Recent earthquakes and wildfires remind us of the increasing environmental challenges which affect the way we build our cities.

Studio 07 proposes designing buildings, which are open socially to different voices who attend to one another, allowing for chance mutation, pathway dependence and the environment conceived as a coherent whole, where interaction between physical creation and social behaviour occurs. We propose that it’s the sheer physical density which is the stimulus, with ambiguous edges, contriving incomplete forms in buildings and planning for unresolved narratives and realities. The new community resources situated at the edges between, making use of new technologies to make building both simpler and more flexible in operation. We decide when the critical stage of a re-think has arrived, with Studio 07 believing that we must embrace less re-assuring, more febrile ideas of living together, to capture the realities of Athens in the European Union.

Read more on Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources (ARCSR)

Image: Students and refugees sharing conversation over tea (left); Abandoned construction of a typical concrete frame polykatoikia(right), Athens, 2019

Students and refugees in conversation over tea (left) Abandoned concrete frame structure (right)


Tutors Robert Barnes
Dr Bo Tang 
Where Goulston Street
Room GS1-22
When Tuesday and Friday

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