PG Architecture Unit 07: Poetic Pragmatism I: Housing in the Hinterlands of Hackney

Unit brief

Last year, the studio pursued the idea of Good Nature, a strategy to make buildings for human occupation that do not thoughtlessly or unnecessarily displace other forms of life but attempt to co-exist with them.

This year, 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.

Hackney Council has the ambition to build one thousand new social rent homes over the next four years. The council’s development team has identified eight hundred infill sites in the borough, of which fifteen have been chosen to analyse further against parameters of site area and developmental volume, their proximity to other buildings or spaces and the impact of this on overlooking, egress, rights to light, party wall negotiations, ‘heritage’ and the safety of residents.

The studio will be undertaking detailed feasibility studies of five of these fifteen sites in order to see what can be achieved in this sector through the prism of poetic pragmatism. This will require rigour in addressing the interrelated parameters of cost, buildabilty and embodied energy, but also curiosity, so as to engage the architectural imagination.

We will start the year investigating a number of existing European housing types to understand different modes of dwelling. They will then be interrogated further, addressing how they could be built using contemporary building techniques and how they would meet contemporary performance criteria and codes.

Alongside this, we will read and discuss some literary, philosophical and pragmatic texts by Pier Vittorio Aureli, Tim Ingold, Bruno Latour, Georges Perec, Norman Potter and Alison and Peter Smithson.

We will encourage you to take a path that embraces both analogue and digital techniques and interweave them in the design intentions, processes and outcomes.

brick wall with weeds and yellow flowers growing at base


Tutors David Grandorge
Ted Swift 
Where Goulston Street
When Monday and Thursday

Architecture Postgraduate Studios