Studio 09: High Street: After the Shops

Studio brief

Since 2013, between one in 12 and one in five shops on the British high street have shut, leaving the centres of towns and cities across the country empty and abandoned. As austerity bites and online shopping becomes the norm, the future of these areas is uncertain and other uses will need to be found. The high street was once the centre of the community – the post office, the pub and the grocer provided places to meet and pass the time. We are interested in exploring the potential for public and community buildings to fill this void and for cultural buildings to enrich people’s lives.

Studio 09 will start the year with a study of the high street and an initial proposal for a community building – a place for gathering and the exchange of ideas. We will use this project to develop a strong design process, building key skills including drawing, model making and precedent to create a building proposition that responds to its context and forms part of a new urban fabric.  

For the field trip we will travel to Paris by train and study a range of urban and building typologies. We will undertake a study of a range of different streets and try to understand how they have developed over time. We will also visit a number of individual buildings and explore how the study of a precedent can influence the design process.

On our return to London the main project will be to develop a new typology of a cultural and community building to redefine the high street. We will look to combine different functions within a single building to encourage overlap and cross programming. By combining a library with a cinema, a theatre with an educational building or a dance venue with a gallery for example, there is the opportunity to attract a wider range of people and create a new cultural focus for the high street of the future.

We use this project to refine the design process, focusing on a greater level of resolution and the integration of technology. We will work between the scales of the city and the room using model making, photography and drawing to develop our understanding of the role of building within the city.

Image: 'Shops on Essex Street – Balloons in things' – Elliot Brown

Boarded up shops on Essex Road


Tutors Jillian Jones
Ewan Stone
David Howarth
Where Goulston Street
Room GS1-12
When Tuesday and Friday

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