Studio 1: School of Thought

Studio philosophy

An experiential investigation into education, research and collaborative research/living spaces.

The Studio Living Practice/Creative Spaces will be investigating environments for education and research that can provide a launchpad for ideas within recognised sites such as the Natural History Museum and the Design Museum. The communities may be encouraged to stay for an hour or weeks, depending on the projects.  Within those time frames the dynamics of the groups may change or shift, creating the need for flexible and creative solutions to the settings and experience. The studio asks you to redefine, innovate and push the boundaries of living practice within creative spaces, outside the confines of existing design.  

What constitutes an educational space in the 21st Century?  How can the dynamics of the designed environment inspire creative outcomes for a range of age and social groups? Can a research space be adapted and situated to innovate and question process and practice? 

Messy, challenging, confrontational, confusing and inspirational are some of the aspects of active research and learning, whether on your own, with your peers or within multidisciplinary collaborations.  

How can the energy, sensory, environmental and physical elements of research, and educational spaces help to make sense of this unpredictable journey? Can designing and imagining of eventful sustainable spatial interventions, open up opportunities to develop a broader and more creative understanding of issues at hand. Will the opportunity of sharing different approaches, and encouraging ‘another way’, be evidenced within the outcomes?  

The aim of the projects will be to understand the process of research, individually, with peers and through collaborative methods and how the finding may impact on the understanding and development of a project.  From these outcomes the intention is to devise innovative schemes for our client, the Natural History Museum, through live briefs.  

The scope

How the research is undertaken, where and with whom, is one of the questions this studio is raising. Within the twenty-first century digital era, what is the value in providing physical space for education/research within the public domain and institutions? How can a ‘situated’ site impact on process and practice? Can a shift from ‘e-mmersion’ back to ‘immersion’ within spaces that are creatively crafted to enhance, enable, inspire and perform for those who inhabit the environments? How can the spatial journey to and from the research space, impact on one’s outlook? And how can other views, vistas or paths, develop enquiry and attitude? The idea is to invent new approaches to navigating and inhabiting unpredictable topographies of research and educational process and practice. 

The project briefs 

  • The cognitive exchange
    Creating transformative education, research and collaborated spaces/journeys based on live briefs from the Natural History Museum Education and Research departments Level 5 and 6.
  • Mnemonic suspension
    Short-stay accommodation that encourages creativity and aids reflection. Communal spaces, breakout spaces and sleeping environments. 

Major projects:
RSA competition linked to the Studio philosophy Level 6.
Self-determined projects Level 6. 

The project scope will encourage a range of outcomes suitable for your communities. This may include:

  • Transformative spatial interventions and journeys to encourage learning, researching and collaboration
  • Accommodation/Live research space
  • Exhibition and events to highlight and demonstration of practice
  • Archive/leaving a legacy for other

The process:

  • Engaging
  • Experimentation
  • Evaluation
  • Expression 

The framework

Designers and connected communities have to consider a more responsible composition of ideas to our environmental needs. Sustainable energy use and material choice are to be rewarded but how does this connect with the individual and the surroundings? The studio will investigate responsible approaches to materials and how new emerging technologies can have a positive impact on those who inhabit your spaces. 

The year

Mentored sessions will enable the participants to discuss and debate first hand their ideas, through workshops, tutorials and critiques. The studio is connected to a number of universities across the world, through a joint workshop. Dong Yang Mirae will be undertaking the project within their own context and publishing their outcomes with ours. A joint blog and newspaper will allow for all participants to share ideas, process and practice. The year will end with a collaborative exhibition within the public realm. 

Throughout this project there will be opportunities to develop:

  • Publications
  • Exhibition
  • Demonstration to Professional Practice
  • Work with a Charity
  • Work with a major institution within the museum world
  • Volunteering and Community workshops
  • Event                                                   

Learning and teaching

  • Investigation into community, environment and materials of the site, with an emphasis on building a strong narrative to support the design process
  • Development through extensive model making approaches, leading to a professional output
  • Experimentation and discovery through traditional craft skills and digital media to demonstrate and further your ideas
  • Workshops and competitions
  • Mentoring and critiques with professional practice
  • Producing a collaborative book for publication
  • Undertaking a series of exhibitions
  • Opportunities to win internships with leading practices.
  • Professional practice/collaborators and mentors will support the projects

Studio trip

Sir John Soane Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP, Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm. Last entry 4:30pm. Closed every Sunday, Monday and bank holiday (admission is free).   

Studio project partners

National History Museum

Image: Veronica Buzgu


Course Interior Design BA (Hons)
Interior Architecture and Design BA (Hons)
Tutors Janette Harris
Elizabeth Freemont
Where Studio 1, 5th Floor, Commercial Road
When Tuesdays, Fridays