PG Architecture Unit 12: The Garden

Unit brief

In his 2019 book “Taking the Country’s Side”, the teacher and theorist Sebastian Marot speculates on the future relationship of the city and the countryside. The industrialisation of agriculture that has taken place over the last 100 years has displaced populations living and working on the land to the cities, separating the busy metropolis from the practice of farming that surrounds it. The intensive use of energy and technology required to produce cheap food has affected human health and biodiversity. Marot advocates turning away from the concentration of development in the city, and instead bringing architecture and agriculture back together. His idea of acceptable (and modest) growth is for lower density, greener development in the city, together with small, dispersed communities in the countryside that are more self-sustaining and resilient.

This year the studio will work on a brownfield site with existing buildings in rural Suffolk, just over an hour’s train ride from London. This sparsely occupied region of England, with its small villages and towns, was the most populated region in the Mediaeval period because of its fertile land and adjacency to the continent for trade. We will study the architectural possibilities of a small community that brings back together the basic functions of living, working and food production. With the input of others in Suffolk, we will look at ecosystems and their relationship to farming practices and soil conditions. We will look at trees and woodlands, as well as the stonework of ancient churches and ruined monasteries, to see the potential for sustainable timber and stone construction today. We will look at architectural responses in modernism to conditions outside urbanism, including forms of growth in buildings and structuralism.

In a year of real experiences, we will visit various forms of Paradise; artist’s gardens, market gardens and English landscape gardens. We will experience the site in different seasons together. The Unit trip will be a series of visits to open landscapes along the east coast between Harwich and Southwold, on bicycles. In the first semester, we will begin with the design of a shared house and garden, within the former market garden site of Rochester Square in Camden.

Black and white photo of 6 curled fern fronds

Image credit: Karl Blossfeldt – Adiantum pedatum 1898 - 1926


Course Architecture RIBA 2 - MArch
Tutors Peter St John
Fabienne Sommer
Ben Speltz
James Hand
Where Goulston Street
When Monday and Thursday


Architecture Postgraduate studios