Unit 09: Making Urban

Unit brief

Making Urban

This year Unit 09 will continue its two Semester / project structure. Semester one will take us to the remote French mountains of the Cevennes National Park where we will design a small hotel as part of an existing seventeenth century stone hamlet.

Semester two will take us to Paris where we will design 'Foyer' – a hostel for young people – within the heart of the city.

In developing building proposals for each project the unit will be concerned with questions of form and composition, scale and character, material, colour and construction, all of which will be at play within the distinctive historical and cultural conditions of their respective sites.

Semester one: Hotel

Our Semester one project will be taught together with Peter St John and undertaken jointly with Unit 12. The site of the project is an abandoned hamlet situated deep in the heart of the Cevennes mountains. 

The existing buildings have been constructed over 250 years, starting in the sixteenth century; the materials and construction techniques of which haven't much changed over that period. Consequently, the site, indeed many of the hamlets of the Cevennes display a strong consistency in their appearance with the use of schist stone resourcefully deployed for wall, roof and floors alike.

Its buildings possess very particular and special qualities – they have distinct characteristics of shape, scale and colour, material singularity, window to wall ratio, weight and topographical consequences. 

In developing proposals for our hotel, we will be confronted by interesting architectural questions of how to relate to these aspects with contemporary construction, new programmatic and regulatory requirements.

Our hotel program will demand some public access such as an event space / restaurant and it is anticipated that several new buildings may be added to the existing ensemble.

The Semester program will quickly focus on urban form and composition, the design and detail of selected facades and the interior design and spatial arrangement of one of the hotel rooms that react, absorb and give interpretation to the special and distinctive characteristics of the Cevennol building culture.

In preparation for the project we will begin the Semester with a short two-week photographic study entitled 'building cultures', during which students will look at specific towns and buildings across the UK, observe and document the way a single material has been used so resourcefully as to become the essence of a particular place. Of how for example different stone, schist or granite properties have brought about different construction techniques, architectural solutions and aesthetic characteristics. We will look at instances of soft sawn sandstone to hard and dark rock. Documenting examples from Aberdeen to Cornwall, this work will be an informative study and bound together as a joint unit publication.

Semester two: Foyer

The site of our Semester two project is an underdeveloped corner of a typical Haussmann block on Rue de Rivoli in the heart of Paris. We will immerse ourselves in the architecture and urban project of this great city. As with the first Semester the unit will focus on questions of form and composition, plan and spatial richness, and will look at how these things interact with the distinctive architecture culture of Haussmann’s urban Paris.

Our studies will take us on trips across France from Paris to the South.

stone hamlet


Course Professional Diploma in Architecture - RIBA 2 (now Architecture RIBA 2 MArch)
Tutors Stephen Taylor
Theodoros Thysiades

Goulston StreetRoom GS2-31

When Monday and Thursday

Professional Diploma in Architecture (RIBA part II)