Unit 7

Unit brief

A MUTABLE ARCHITECTURE: The study of adaptive typologies, proposals for mixed-used developments in the hinterlands of Hackney Road and the construction of a gallery and garden for Central House

This year, Unit 7 will be pursuing a mutable architecture, one that is able to adapt to the changing conditions imposed on it through time. We will investigate the means by which buildings can respond to changes in their mode of occupation through a rigorous understanding of their spatial condition, their tectonic properties, how they could be inhabited and how they might be conceived in terms of a loose fit ideal.

These themes will be addressed initially in drawn and modelled research into adaptive typologies without recourse to context. This research is intended to clarify the specific means by which buildings can be designed and subsequently modified with economy and elegance. It is also intended to develop an understanding of the role played by tolerance in buildings at a range of scales. It will be instrumental in preparing the ground for the major design project - a mixed use development compromising of spaces for dwelling, working and a public programme that will be self-determined by students.

The major design project will be played out on one of three sites that occupy the hinterlands of the Hackney Road in East London. These sites are characterised by cleared ground, redundant and incomplete structures and derelict buildings. You will be asked to define the metabolism of these sites, decide the fate of their existing structures and, depending on your conclusions, make proposals that exploit both new build and adaptive re-use. In the later stages of the year, you will be asked to test the mutability of what you have designed by demonstrating how it could adapt to (further) changes in use, density, servicing requirements, climate and economic conditions.

The issue of adaptability will be explored in a very direct fashion in two construction projects, one inside of and one on top of Central House. The former will be for a new gallery in the redundant space formerly occupied by a bank on the ground floor of school’s new home. The second will be for a new garden and shelter on the roof of the building that will relate to the Whitechapel Gallery and spaces beyond. These projects will continue the unit’s ongoing investigations into the technical, formal and poetic possibilities of timber construction.

In early November, the unit will undertake a field trip to Trondheim in Norway where we will be received as guests by Brendeland & Kristoffersen Architects and students and staff of the architecture school at Trondheim University.

Hackney Road IV, 2011


Course Professional Diploma in Architecture RIBA Part 2
Tutors David Grandorge
Colin Wharry