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.
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.