Unit 14: Dis-place

Unit brief


In Freudian psychology, displacement is an unconscious defence mechanism whereby the mind substitutes either a new aim or a new object for goals felt in their original form to be dangerous or unacceptable.

Unit 14 will work in the East End this year, specifically in Tower Hamlets. We will be concerned with diaspora displacement and the indigenous. Tower Hamlets has accommodated incoming communities of Chinese, Huguenots, Jews, Italians, Bangladeshis and many others over centuries. It has also been subject to major redevelopment as a result of bomb damage, post-war so called slum clearance and the advent of the Welfare State, itself under threat of completely being dismantled by successive governments since the late 1970s. The only constant has been change and flux.

Our aim will be to study communities that live in Tower Hamlets and trace their journeys into and from the East End over generations. We are concerned with the impact of gentrification, the potential to assimilate or enjoy difference – how the social impacts on the architectural and vice-versa. We will study different building typologies within the borough – terraces, low-rise high density housing and towers – and question the matrix of public space in which they are situated.

The unit trip will be to Rome to study the work of Vignola, Borromini, Libera, Moretti and others, focusing on facade and elevation and the gesamtkunstwerk. It will be your task to invent scenarios that question the way in which land is procured in the city and to propose new ways of forming communities and livelihoods through intelligent design and building strategies. We would like you to consider the environmental impact of new development, the influence of digital technology on the way we live, work and play and its potential for social exchange. We would like you to examine the means by which such projects may be brought into being.

Robin Hood Gardens [Credit: KUBASNOPEK]


Course Professional Diploma in Architecture - RIBA 2 (now Architecture RIBA 2 MArch)
Tutors Pierre d'Avoine
Pereen d'Avoine

Goulston StreetRoom GS1-13

When Monday and Thursday

Professional Diploma in Architecture (RIBA part II)