The city of Athens has played a significant role during the so-called ‘European Migrant Crisis’, as a major ‘Arrival City’ for refugees since 2015, where over one million people came to Greece in the first year. Seven years on, the end of 2022 will see the close of the European refugee housing support programme (ESTIA), which will bring about great uncertainty for an estimated 13,000 people in Athens, who have sought to make the city their home over recent years. But how will a city without an existing model for rented social housing seek to address what happens next?
Unit 06 will address the problem of building new, particularly within the urban context of Athens where 30% of the existing housing stock remains abandoned. We will begin the year by considering refugee housing options for the refurbishment of an existing 1930s estate at the edge of the city. This will be followed by a field trip to Athens, a transformative city with a rich history, at the eastern edge of Europe.
By locating the unit within the current, critical exchange about the future of refugees in Athens, we will interrogate an area of investigation in and around the neighbourhood of Exarcheia, which includes activist squats, polykatoikia (multi-family) residences, neo-classical buildings and commercial sheds. As part of this process, we will assemble pieces of social infrastructure and imagine future opportunities for refugee homemakers within your own chosen sites. We will encourage you to welcome the idea of ‘becoming’ and of imagining the ‘city yet to come’, built and maintained with local capabilities and pre-existing form and materials.
Working with our Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources (ARCSR) partners in London and Athens, we will help you to find new ways of looking, imagining and representing your ideas, whilst cooperating with fellow students as a unit group during a weekly series of workshops, seminars and individual tutorials. You will develop your own brief and manifesto to imagine the introduction of new housing and shared spaces from a narrative assembled from your physical and sociocultural investigations, as a mechanism to address, through your own responses, issues relating to climate change and the built environment, such as global warming, water security, low-cost and low-carbon construction techniques, thermal performance and material science. Topics such as biophilia and increasing trends towards urban farming and local food production will be part of strategies introduced to you in measured instalments throughout the course as appropriate. Local residents will provide you with first-hand information and experiences from which you will generate meaningful architectural discourse for your personal approach to these pressing contemporary issues.
Studies will be carried out with optimism, in the expectation that the creative interplay between the energy of students and residents’ ongoing act of dwelling will generate a valuable and meaningful architectural discourse around engagement with the architectural opportunities and responsibilities available within civic topography.
Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources (ARCSR): www.arcsr.org
Image credit: Brixton, imagined adjacencies and tensions, Imran Sabur 2013
|When||Monday and Thursday|
Architecture Postgraduate Studios
PG Architecture Unit 02: Building in the Landscape of the City
Tony Fretton and Jillian Jones
To design an Embassy in Park Square, a large enclosed garden in the south of Regents Park, consisting of a Chancellery, the offices of the Embassy and a Residence, the home of the Ambassador and their family, and a place of social and political gathering. There is space enough on the site to allow design in radically sustainable materials and processes.
PG Architecture Unit 03: New Ways of Seeing
Pippa Nissen, Marie-Lise Oulmont, Andrea Hickey, Kate Coghlan
This year our studio will be designing a major public building in East London by the Regent’s Canal. The brief will be to design an art gallery or museum, that includes an archive and learning spaces around a collection of objects or art. The response will need to challenge traditional display; discussion, debate and learning embedded in the whole. The studio’s theme builds on our work at Nissen Richards Studio, where we have a particular focus on cultural buildings and narrative spaces.
PG Architecture Unit 04: The Palimpsest of Futures Past
Jonas Lundberg, Nate Kolbe
Working on several UNESCO world heritage sites in Sicily as an integral part of provincial and rural development in collaboration with invested actors. You are asked to imagine, design, and develop a time-based architecture adding a layer to the historical palimpsest of an UNESCO world heritage site. Unit04 urges you to regain the agency of architecture as the harbinger of change, delight and vision adding equally precious layers to the present and the near future to the palimpsest of the site.
PG Architecture Unit 06: After the Arrival City
Dr Bo Tang and Robert Barnes
“Never demolish, always transform. Transformation is the opportunity of doing more and better with what is already existing. The demolishing is a decision of easiness and short term. It is a waste of many things — a waste of energy, a waste of material, and a waste of history. Moreover, it has a very negative social impact. For us, it is an act of violence.” Lacaton & Vassal, Winners of the Pritzker Architecture Prize 2021. Unit 06 will explore housing and social infrastructure in Athens
PG Architecture Unit 07: Poetic Pragmatism I: Housing in the Hinterlands of Hackney
David Grandorge, Ted Swift
The studio will continue to address how global heating impacts upon the practice and production of architecture, in this case, through the design of low and medium-rise housing for social rent in east London.
PG Architecture Unit 08: 余白と間 – yohaku and ma
Takero Shimazaki, Paolo Emilio Pisano and Karabo Turner
Starting from the concepts of 余白と間 – yohaku and ma, we will focus on existing sites in London – proposing a future life for overlooked buildings, structures, and landscapes to incorporate new public programmes. We will continue to work with the notion of re-use – challenging ourselves to propose ambitious, civic architecture using an economy of means within our current climate crisis.
PG Architecture Unit 09: HOUSE AND GARDEN
Stephen Taylor, Giles Townshend
This year Unit 9 will undertake live projects, focusing its attention on the remote hill town of Florac in the French mountains of the Cevennes National Park. Working with the local mayor we will design a cluster of houses, gardens and workshops.
PG Architecture Unit 12: Second Life
Peter St John, Fabienne Sommer, Ben Speltz and James Hand
The studio will investigate the theme of Second Life in the context of the design of buildings. Our interest is wider than the theme of Reuse and will address the broader question of a Renewal of our approach to construction, moving towards a future where buildings are indivisible components of a regenerating ecological system. With an interest in imagining alternatives to our problematic present, our main project will be the design of a timber building for a Housing Collective in south London.