In The Economy of Cities, Jane Jacobs suggests that rural economies have been built upon urban models. These models have been historically responsible for the sustainable and balanced growth of city and country. This interdependence is evident in the land enclosed within the walls of the Old English settlements, whilst in the medieval period, with the advent of abbeys and universities, orchards and meadows, set next to significant civic and religious buildings, allowed the countryside to penetrate the fabric of the city. In his Walks Within the Walls, Peter Smithson refers to this condition of nature next to city as Rus in Urbe.
As London grew during the Georgian and Victorian periods, it absorbed peripheral rural settlements and villages primarily by employing a development model of terraces built around green squares, heaths or commons. This model aimed at offering a view of living in the country while enjoying the economic benefits of the city and eventually led to the emergence of the garden city model in the twentieth century.
However, where the constellation of medieval settlements grew on a model of an independent local economy, the suburban model of the garden city relied on the provision of an extended infrastructure and of daily commuting to the city, with much of the innovation emerging from the city absorbed into a global economic system.
With the current rise of remote working, the declaration of a global climate emergency and the influence of social movements that stand for disadvantaged minorities, the need for a sustainable, self sufficient, architectural model in the tradition of rus in urbe is now more prevalent than ever.
Your aim for the year will be to develop architectural projects that sustain a feeling of the countryside whilst living in the city. We will work in the suburban setting of Hampstead’s garden suburb and will test how your proposals could increase the suburbs sense of community and liveliness. We imagine that by the end of the year you will each develop environmentally sustainable and economically viable architectural forms, suitable for a diverse urban society able to live in harmony with nature.
You will each be working on one of three designated sites for the entire year and the scale of your investigation will range from the scale of the building in the first term to the detail of the window in the second.
Through the year we will focus on bringing together design expertise and artistic skills, to create instances of commoning and environmentally sound design with good orientation, views and aspect, incorporating elements like courtyards, porches, terraces, roofs, ways and gardens into a balanced whole.
The teaching will take place in person as well as remotely and will be supported by a series of walks in different neighbourhoods of London accompanied by guest speakers. We are planing a trip to France in the second semester, subject to all Covid-related government and University restrictions for travelling overseas being lifted at the time.
Architecture Postgraduate Studios
PG Architecture Unit 02: Creative Kentish Town
Tony Fretton and Jillian Jones
Exploration of the social and urban possibilities of contemporary work and leisure, and designing unusual forms and facades.
PG Architecture Unit 03: A Museum For Now
Pippa Nissen, Marie-Lise Oulmont, Andrea Hickey, Kate Coghlan
Our unit is looking at architecture from the point of view of experience and how we can design a series of spaces as a carefully choreographed route. We are working on two projects over the year. Firstly, a smaller building to house an exhibition, and then a new museum building in the Hackney Marshes. We will ask you to think about themes around light and materials and how we can make our cultural buildings relevant today; how has the pandemic changed our view of culture and society?
PG Architecture Unit 04: Virtual Laboratory; Wilderness In The Making
Jonas Lundberg, Nate Kolbe
How can we plan cities and buildings adapted to physical distancing, remote working and increased resilience to extreme natural events? How can we reduce our ecological footprint by making new provisions for public space both real and virtual at the same time as we embrace the COVID induced thriving biodiversity of our cities? We work with digital tools in two design projects direct to factories in the exploration of engineered timber: timber pavilions and tall timber towers.
PG Architecture Unit 05: The Borrowed Landscape
Michael Dillon, Amy Bradley Smith, Lauren Shevills
This year we explore the layers between outdoors and indoors in dwellings. Forming skins and spaces that mediate climate. By manipulating thermal enclosure, we look to reduce the material consumption of building and make landscape more manifest in the interior. The borrowed landscape transgresses ideas of ventilation, enclosure, live/work and a more cyclical and outdoor life-cycle. We are actively engaging with the climate emergency, designing to reduce embodied energy.
PG Architecture Unit 06: Loose Fit City
Professor Maurice Mitchell, Dr Bo Tang
This year, Unit 06 will be investigating two London settings looking for ways to transform hard boundaries into loose borders into which students will introduce appropriate social infrastructure to create and expand common civic grounds. We will encourage you to find new ways of representing your ideas, fostering cooperation between fellow students and provoking new ways of looking, imagining and representing.
PG Architecture Unit 07: Self Build: Furniture, House and Housing with an Emphasis on Timber Construction
David Grandorge, Ted Swift
Unit 07’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. This idea will pursued at two scales at two sites in the London Borough of Hackney. The two projects will address some of the issues raised by the housing crisis and the impact of architecture on resource depletion and climate change.
PG Architecture Unit 08: Enough Already
Takero Shimazaki, Paolo Emilio Pisano and Karabo Turner
We have enough already: enough resources, enough buildings, enough space. Unit 8 explores the notions that everyone might enjoy private sufficiency and public luxury, and that of a '15 Minute City'. Leading from a provocation that daily life can be organised within a small. accessible radius, we will propose singular architectural interventions, challenging ideas of private and public space, re-use of resources and building stock, minimal intervention, and juxtaposition of programmes and spaces.
PG Architecture Unit 09: Rus in Urbe
Stephen Taylor and Theodoros Thysiades
This year in Unit 09 we will explore how architectural projects that sustain a feeling of the countryside whilst living in the city could be developed. We will work in a suburban setting and test how good design could help cultivate a sense of community and liveliness. We will aim at creating environmentally sustainable and economically viable architectural forms, suitable for a diverse urban society able to live in harmony with nature.
PG Architecture Unit 12: The Dream of the Metropolis
Peter St John, Fabienne Sommer, Ben Speltz and James Hand
At a time when its celebration is under threat, the studio will look at how we protect public life and sociability, by looking at the provisional and the festive social spaces of the city. Reflecting on some important questions of this time, we will look at architecture that is independent of the permanent city fabric, and is instead immediate, short-term, diverse and public. We will start with the design of a small interior, a café or a bar, and finish large with the design of a public park.
PG Architecture Unit 13: Industry in the City
Jane Clossick, Beatrice De Carli, Colin O’Sullivan, Mark Brearley
If you want a city with industry, with makers and menders as part of its diversity, join us to develop bold proposals for a chunk of the Old Kent Road. Start with the design of a large scale multi-let workshop building, later work to shape and advocate alternative plans to save the area from becoming a super-suburb of residential conversion and make space for industry and craftsmanship. Embrace one of the city’s big design challenges, and join the tussle over how this place should evolve.