UG Architecture Studio 04: Here tomorrow

Studio brief

Architecture is always situated in a specific context. Increasingly, in the current climate crisis, that context includes an existing building that will need to be reimagined, remodelled and reused, rather than demolished. To understand and realise the possibilities of an existing building comes with its own challenges. As architects, we will need to study not only the built fabric and social infrastructure of a particular place, but we must also critically evaluate the building itself, including its past and present as well as its potential and constraints.

The need to reimagine existing buildings is particularly urgent on the high street. As retail moves online and shops struggle to recover after a series of lockdowns, the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ of retail is being fundamentally questioned. Can we align ourselves with communities to act in this moment of change, and make new proposals for these buildings to strengthen the social value of the high street?

We will consider alternative community uses for the Marks & Spencer (M&S) building in Hackney Central. The site is embedded in the heart of Hackney, opposite the listed Old Town Hall, St John’s church and churchyard gardens. It stretches from Mare Street to Amherst Road, with blank retail facades to both streets. We will document the physical site in drawings and models, and the social context of the site in photographs and research.

In the first semester, you will design a meeting place for a community group that links the two streets and provides new-build internal and external spaces. In the second semester you will propose a community centre for an existing local community group of your choice, re-using the existing M&S building. To act on the existing building, you will adopt formal methods including cutting, stitching, extending and framing. This process will be developed through large models and detailed drawings in workshops with a structural engineer and sustainability consultant.

A black and white photo of Hackney Central


Tutors Katherine Nolan
Alex Butterworth
Liam Ashmore
Where Goulston Street
When Tuesday and Friday

Architecture studios