PG Architecture Unit 07: Self Build: Furniture, House and Housing with an Emphasis on Timber Construction

Unit brief

Unit 7’s primary interest this year is self build, by which we mean, to self construct as well as to procure and manage the construction of a dwelling or dwellings.

Hackney Council recently initiated its Self Build Challenge. The council is welcoming innovative and environmentally friendly applications for plots of land too small for it to develop, with the aim of giving those priced out of the housing market a different route to security of tenure.

The major design task in the first semester will be to develop a self-build timber construction system for a three-bedroom house that could be applied to a site on Balcorne Street and adapted to other serviced plots as they are released by the council. 

In the second semester, students will undertake a more speculative project, exploring self build at a medium-rise scale on a site at 337-357 Kingsland Road. Students will be asked to design communal housing with a superstructure made from timber in true or composite form, that would require no more than five sub-contractors to complete, with any further construction work undertaken by the self builders.

We will be guided in this endeavour by the ten tenets of Lean Architecture and by Tom Emerson’s assertion that timber construction is “essentially democratic; existing skills are easily shared while collaboration encourages innovation, essential ingredients for the architectural imagination.”

The two major design projects will be preceded by a critical study of Enzo Mari’s intelligent, elegant, yet radical self build furniture project, “Autoprogettazione” from 1974.

The sites for both projects will be analysed in a project inspired by the French writer Georges Perec’s pursuit of what he called the infraordinary – “what happens when nothing happens other than the weather, people, cars and clouds."

Residential street with two-storey buildings, cars and trees


Architecture MA
Tutors David Grandorge
Ted Swift 
Where Goulston Street
When Monday and Thursday

Architecture Postgraduate Studios


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