Studio 9: Economies of Reciprocity

Studio brief

Economies of Reciprocity

"He is reluctant, as one who crosses a stream in winter; hesitating, as one who fears the neighbourhood; respectful, like a guest; trembling, like ice about to melt; unassuming, like a piece of wood not yet carved; vacant, like  valley; formless like troubled waters. To him the three jewels of life were Pity, Economy and Modesty."
Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea (1906)

With our now more uncertain future with the recent Brexit vote, the challenging question of the housing market versus housing needs is even more relevant. Studio 9 will continue to investigate this theme but we will be focusing on the young or first-time buyers trying to get on that ever taller housing ladder.

To find new approaches and solutions, this year we will be looking to our European neighbour Spain, a country whose architects have a long tradition of finding ways to overcome construction crises or financial shortages through embracing an Economy of Means, which creates greater value than only market value. Our two projects this year will be sited in the historic centre of Toledo; a city dominated by tourism, outdated elderly housing and planning immobility. Throughout the year, we wish to investigate ways of living  by concentrating on the theme Economies of Reciprocity, where students will be asked to create a symbiotic relationship between the existing and new. We aim to take a realistic but bold approach; producing great spaces to live in that are sensitive to the needs and historic context of the place.

The first project will be the addition of a small unit to an existing home owned by an elderly resident; a give-and-take proposal concentrating on how architecture can adapt and enhance the existing site and their user’s daily life. The first project will set the basis for an attitude that will drive the year. The final project will be located near the historic city's edge and will be a larger-scale version of the first, with a minimum target of 10 units for young first-time buyers with no maximum unit requirement. The students will be encouraged to see the historic centre as an evolving context that can be adjusted and improved while remaining adequate and efficient in its delivery.

We expect students to find solutions to problems, economic solutions with no excess of architecture, because, as one Spanish master Alejandro de la Sota said, "one way of making architecture is not to make it".


Toledo roofscape


Course Architecture BA (Hons)
Tutor Fran Balaam
Miranda MacLaren
José Silva
Where Central House, third floor studios
When Tuesday and Friday

Architecture Studios