Studio 1: Articulations of the City

Studio brief

Articulations of the City

"The city is the deposit of the whole people, the residuum left by the successive evaporations of human society. Each wave of time leaves its coating of alluvium, each race deposits its layer on the monuments, each individual contributes a stone to it." Victor Hugo,

The city is in constant flux. Being made and unmade, pulled apart and put together once more to meet the changing needs of people. This ongoing process is a cultural endeavour informed by both practical and aesthetic decisions. The city is capable of stirring one's emotions and modifying behaviour, and it can inspire creativity in the human spirit. Such places are increasingly rare, but essential to society.

This year, Studio 1 will challenge you to leave your own architectural trace – or articulation – onto the city space.


Articulations of the City will be investigated at a range of scales. You will design articulations that relate directly to construction. By this, we mean an idea that contributes to the everyday life of the city incorporated into a façade or interior space. We will visit Sweden to sketch the work of an architect who mastered the act of building articulation, Sigurd Lewerentz. Back in London, Soho will be the testing bed for your designs.


A vivid part of London, Soho is currently undergoing change. The qualities that have defined it for centuries are being eroded. Over the course of the year, you will consider the past, present and future city "alluvium" and ask how can the architect both paradoxically preserve and change the fabric of the city?

At the heart of your design will be a performance space with a public character. This space will engage with Soho’s well-documented historical relationship with the stage, but also the increasing pressure on art spaces in the centre of the city to accommodate alternative uses. Sites for design projects will be small pieces of city: a public space or route; a square, yard or garden; a whole city block. Your proposals to preserve and enhance these moments will be urban-scale articulations of the city.


You will explore the idea of ‘townscape’ as a design tool. Described in Pevsner’s unfinished work Visual Planning and the Picturesque, he argues for the application of the principles of the picturesque to a field in which it had not been consciously applied before: "the city". This is not about the sublime or beauty, but more ordinary things such as "intricacy, surprise, impropriety, variety, contrast, piquancy, incongruity, roughness, sudden variation and irregularity".

Throughout Studio 1, we are interested in developing an incremental, tactical design methodology based on careful observation and a freedom from pre-formulated ideals; a way of designing the city with a sense of time that is humanist in essence.

Black and white photograph entitled Queen’s Lane View 9, Oxford – photo by Nikolaus Pevsner.


Course Architecture BA (Hons)
Tutor Alex Bank
Sam Casswell
Where Central House, third floor studios
When Tuesday and Friday

Architecture Studios