PG Architecture Unit 13: Industry in the City

Unit brief

A good city has industry, but London’s flourishing manufacturers and distributors are being brushed aside – with productive spaces being replaced by large-scale residential developments that are unable to welcome a diverse economy. This year the Cities Unit (Unit 13) will explore the intricate industrial landscape of the Old Kent Road area and propose alternatives to roughshod gentrification. We will pursue social and environmental sustainability, civic sharing and an extrovert economy, and develop alternative scenarios through live workshops with some of the area's communities. 

In the first semester, you will design an innovative big scale multi-level and multi-occupant industrial building that can accommodate makers, menders and suppliers, and entwine itself with the existing economic, social and urban fabric (there are lots of cool precedents). This bold project will be based on newly constructed examples of the type in Hamburg and Munich that you will review and redesign to fit the Old Kent Road. The most daring of these buildings to date is 200m long and contains 100 rentable units, 14,000 sqm on four floors served by four large freight elevators. You will engage in urban research at a range of scales – from the doorway to the district – and emerge with an understanding of the flows of people, goods, lorries and vans, policy and time, that shape this chunk of London – gaining knowledge and skills transferable to other urban contexts. 

In the second semester, you will push further, developing an urban strategy that spans scales, and challenges the plans that the London Borough of Southwark are trying to impose. You will test this strategy through the design of a compact building – perhaps working with a real client identified from amongst the enterprises we have worked with previously (in collaboration with Vital OKR). The second semester will see us sharing our work locally at a participatory design workshop – proposing an alternative vision of the future that can gain support from the people of the area and maybe win around policy-makers. 

Our Cities Unit adventure will celebrate the civic and architectural presence of the economy and how industry and its architecture can generate everyday sharing, mutual support and collaboration, circularity and visibility. The Unit is suited to people who want to get hands-on with a live process of urban change, a rapidly evolving context, and a fight for survival. You should want to influence that urban dynamic, win battles through your ability to propose and advocate. Yes, you will design wonderful well-working buildings, but you will also emerge with urban design skills that equip you to engage in city-scale activism and participatory design.  

See our Cities Research website for more about the Cities team and our work and to see past student projects. Follow @Cities_LdnMet (Twitter) and @cities_ldnmetarts (Insta) for regular updates.

stacks of timber beside gasometers


Architecture MA
Tutors Jane Clossick
Colin O'Sullivan
Beatrice de Carli
Mark Brearley 
Where Goulston Street
When Monday and Thursday

Architecture Postgraduate Studios


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