Studio 3: Street Play

Studio philosophy


[ intrans.] engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation
rather than a serious or practical purpose

The Studio is interested in how play can act as a mediator between thresholds or boundaries to actively engage the community and make a stronger connection with place. We will explore how a sense of playfulness can be brought back to our streets and urban spaces to re-energise the community through experiential activities and events – interventions into unexpected types of spaces; a bridge, underpass, car wash, public toilets, reclaiming redundant public buildings to re-ignite, revive and celebrate through play.

We will pose the question can play refresh the High Street, business and the wider community? Historically markets, street entertainment and performance were an intrinsic part of a vibrant community. Is it possible to transform and revitalise our neglected high streets and empty urban spaces, and bring back play to the everyday? Culture on the High Street June 2013, Greater London Authority (GLA).

We will be part of The Cass cross-faculty-wide project ‘In the Valley’, working with project contexts embedded in the fast-evolving Lea Valley packed with urban diversity and challenges. The Valley’s wetlands and waterways come together with vibrant high streets, industrial areas and housing estates. It is “a place laden with stories and possibilities”. Our investigations concentrate on specific sites in and around Tottenham, an area that is signalled as London’s next growth opportunity and has strong plans for regeneration. Working with Haringey Council on live project proposals and in collaboration with Make-Room/ TEA, an art and architecture collective, we will connect with community groups in Tottenham to bring about innovative and long-lasting change. It is a year’s collaboration offering real live opportunities to present ideas to the public and engage with the local community.

You will identify a series of thresholds, spaces and buildings within a boundary in Tottenham, part of the Lee Valley. Our investigations will employ Play – play as research tool and play as a negotiator – to intervene in the site. Our research findings will be delivered and communicated as part of a live pop up event, ‘Living Archive’ exhibition in collaboration with Make-Room, and a series of play structures/interventions proposed to engage the local community. You are invited to make partners and friends in the site and engage with them in your research journey to know and to propose. In the first phase, activities are concerned with research methods to learn about the site, social and spatial practices, mapping and investigation through site research, moving onto propositions for a collection of play structures. In the second phase, you will build on your learning from research in response to real client/users needs and propose interventions around cultural and social activity; experiential events, points for social interaction, community activities and social playgrounds.


Phase One  – ‘Threshold of Difference’

You will be tasked with taking a group journey of research and discovery to specific sites in Tottenham and the Lea Valley, and experience walking as a spatial practice. You will document and map the history, industry and community stories producing a film/video/ and drawings. Building on the research, you will then identity your interior position and create a manual to record the research findings and formulate in a ‘play’ intervention, kit-structure.

In collaboration with Make-Room you will occupy a temporary shop unit in Broad Lane, Tottenham and contribute to the ‘Living Archive’ public exhibition. You can add work to this evolving archive as proposals for the play structures/interventions develop.

‘Zeste de Folie
– a touch of creative madness’

A short, sharp live project for second years, to propose concept ideas for a one-day pop-up awards event – Businesswoman of the Year, sponsored by Veuve Clicquot and sited at Fish Island Riviera, Hackney Wick. There will be an opportunity to present concept ideas to the client.

Phase Two – Experiential

‘Quality Street’
Building on research in Phase One, second years will be invited to focus their main project on West Green Road and Tottenham High Street, developing briefs and designs with shopkeepers, artists and the London Borough of Haringey. Designs may be fully realised with support from Make-Room and Council funding. [Third years will have the option of working on this dependent on their interests].

‘Four Corners at Seven Sisters’ 
The third-year major project focus is to select a defined site within Tottenham and propose an intervention that connects to prior research. There are impressive vacant buildings at Seven Sisters to collaborate with TEA Architects on, and to develop links with potential clients to formulate clear design briefs. You'll develop play structures further and work with Make-Room to secure Arts Council funding to create/realise the structures.

Emphasis will be placed on learning through research and investigating; working through testing, reviewing, sketching, photography/video, drawing, model making and documenting of the process that will form a complete body of work.


  • initiate and engage with live projects
  • work with artists and local business on developing design briefs
  • collaborate externally with design collectives and local authorities
  • work in teams to promote, market and realise ideas in a public exhibition
  • learn to secure funding with professional support
  • potential realisation of mobile play structures with bid to Arts Council funding with support of Make-Room
  • design, execute and deliver proposals that can be commissioned, fully realised and built


  • Make-Room/TEA Architects – Living Archive and mobile play structures
  • Haringey Council – Tottenham Regeneration plans
  • Moet Hennessy UK/ Banbury Walker – pop-up event

UK study trip:

Hastings – Hasting pier regeneration.

Dried yellow flowers by Sam Spenser, [], Photo: Clive Booth


Course Interior Design BA (Hons)
Interior Architecture and Design BA (Hons)
Tutor Suzanne Smeeth-Paros
Mohamad Hafeda
Where Studio 3, fifth Floor, Commercial Road
When Tuesdays, Fridays