Studio 9: Common House

Studio brief

This year Studio 9 will be working in London, continuing to explore housing for the elderly. The main site will be Poplar, where students will be asked to propose co-housing for gap sites in and around the Lansbury Estate.

The Lansbury formed part of the ‘live’ exhibition for the Festival of Britain and fragments of the original Frederick Gibberd scheme can still be picked out amongst more recent infill. Over the course of the latter half of the 20th century the character of Poplar altered dramatically: Blocks and towers have now almost entirely replaced the 19th century terraced cottages that once typified the area. The first wave of residents who moved into these new estates as young adults in the 1950s, are now in old age and new types of housing are needed for this ageing population.

Co-housing communities are run by the residents, with groups of individual homes sharing a ‘common’ house. The movement emerged in Scandinavia and Germany in the 1970s, and we will visit Berlin in November to study some of the best examples. Although co-housing is still in its infancy in Britain, interest is growing fast, with the understanding that this type of housing could help to combat the isolation many elderly people feel today, providing an independent, yet supportive, community structure free from the institution.  

We will be working with the artist Rose Nag throughout the year using drawing as a method of exploring the atmosphere and urban conditions of Poplar, unpicking the layers of development and infrastructure that characterises the place. We will begin with a short project looking at a small public space and propose adjustments and interventions to improve accessibility and use, tracing routes from the domestic to the public and making small-scale proposals – a surface, a seat, a new front garden - that improve the usability and joyfulness of these existing places.

The Lansbury Estate, Poplar


Course Architecture BA (Hons)
Tutor Fran Balaam
Miranda MacLaren
Where Central House, 3rd Floor Studios
When Tuesday and Friday