Studio 3: Community Exchange

Studio philosophy

This year, the studio is interested in the negotiations of community and commercial exchange through site intervention into the trading communities of Tower Hamlets markets, and the specific public space practices of the market traders, other site users and the policies that operate within them.  We will explore small-scale markets and their potential as spaces where diverse communities come together to trade and interact. Research findings will inform developments to speculate on interventions into a public realm space/ site and create a social program for the third sector that responds to market practices beyond the trading exchanges and creates a Collaborative Hub. 

To begin we look at the nature of the market, its traders, its practices and regulations. We will concentrate our focus on Whitechapel Market that caters to a local diverse community and presents a versatile territory for observation and investigation. It offers a dual reading, that is, looking at the life of the market during the day, and beyond opening hours when the wider public are using the same space. We will consider the use by others, thinking of issues [social, cultural, operational] that appear invisible, yet govern the way the market space is used and negotiated. 

Whitechapel Market has been in existence for more than two hundred years and is located in the Whitechapel Market Conservation Area. ‘It is a market on a high street, an historic urban corridor with high intensity of retail and opportunity for social encounters.’ Whitechapel Market: The Exchange Street LSE Cities 

As investigations develop further we will concentrate our creative energies on the complex of buildings that constitute the site of Toynbee Hall to propose a space for market events in the public realm, a series of ‘pop up’ physical structures informed by research of the market, and linking to a third sector social program focusing on community and commercial exchange: a Collaborative Hub and a Traders Exchange. In this respect we will examine the negotiation and the link between the temporary/transient nature of the market space and the permanent/fixed nature of a building/institution in relation to traders’ community and commercial exchange. 


Project One: [Commercial Exchange]
You will identify a trader and stall in Whitechapel Market researching the pattern and practices of operation. You will produce a manual of documented drawings, observations, and spatial testing of the alternative invented and unexpected exchanges within the market. 

Site intervention 1 [temporary, transient]

Intervene into the market by constructing an object/ device that acts as an initiator or mediator for different users. It is a device to facilitate a service in the site based on research of the trader’s practices and uses, and on a related ‘found object’ such as a chair, umbrella, or a box repurposed, rescaled and reinterpreted. The length of stay of these structures or public furniture will respond to the site. 

Project Two: Market Place/ Collaborative Hub/ Traders Exchange - [Community Exchange]
In this project you will reflect on and interpret research from the market to propose temporary ‘pop up’ interventions in the public realm space of Mallon Gardens within the site of Toynbee Hall as a social playground for market events and other scenarios of use. The gardens will act as a threshold to community exchange and a vehicle to bring the community together with an active frontage. This landscape of activity will reimagine the gardens, create a threshold to the street and connect the public, buildings and services of Toynbee. Toynbee is a force of social reform and provides many vital support services for the local community. 

Site intervention 2 + 3 [temporary – permanent/ fixed]

Propose a permanent Collaborative Hub space [3rd year] and a Traders Exchange [2nd year] that link with the temporary market events and existing Toynbee service users. These Hubs will provide a new public space/ intervention into existing buildings within the wider Toynbee estate, envisioned as a social space open to all in the locality where community and commercial exchange can happen. A place of exchange, culture, knowledge, experiences. The program may include new skilling workshops for the traders, retail and social spaces, café etc. linked to the market events in Mallon Gardens and the Toynbee Hall community. 

The studio also provides an opportunity to work with a live client project/ site, collaborate with MA students and contribute to 130 years anniversary celebration of the client, Toynbee Hall with an on site exhibition, and be involved with a major redevelopment of the site. 

Engage with a live client and project site.
Collaborate with the local community, local business responding to design briefs.
Work in teams to promote, present ideas in a community public external exhibition.
Develop design proposals and realise internship opportunities. 

Toynbee Hall – project client and Richard Griffiths – Architect [Toynbee Hall] redevelopment.
Peter Trill – mentor and interior design professional. 

Study Trip: Venice Biennale [week 9]

Image credit: Artsadmin's Toynbee Studios launch, photo by Hugo Glendinning


Course Interior Design BA (Hons)
Interior Architecture and Design BA (Hons)
Tutor Suzanne Smeeth-Poaros
Mohamad Hafeda
Where Studio 3, 5th Floor, Commercial Road
When Tuesdays, Fridays