The contemporary urban landscape is without doubt defined by the rapid evolution of technology, uncertain economy, globalisation and the increase of world population. The combination of said aspects is transforming spaces in a fast-paced environment, shifting the way we work, we live, and we interact with each other. New solutions are emerging in the urban structure that respond to the pressures that cities are facing and address the needs from the new generations of inhabitants.
In a city where space is in huge demand and becomes almost unaffordable, words like ‘pop-up’, ‘micro’, ‘modular’, ‘flexible’ and new concept like the shared economies of ‘co-working’ and ‘co-living’ are becoming quite familiar and part of the solution.
London is full of unused spaces that could be used on a temporary basis to improve and facilitate the development process of those spaces, while offering affordable opportunities for those urbanites that crave for flexibility and location in the city. Known as ‘meanwhile space’, these empty spaces are transformed into temporary housing, community gardens, ‘pop up’ shops or workspaces.
In this studio, we ask students to explore these emerging concepts that are transforming our cities contributing to the growth of a sustainable economy. We will encourage innovative design to
transform the urban landscape where 'meanwhile' space enables start-ups, communities or activities to emerge within the context of a defined urban landscape.
The studio will work on a site in the district of Thamesmead - an area with a great representation of the Brutalist / Modernist Architecture in the UK and currently undergoing an ambitious regeneration program. Students will analyse the existing buildings and the site constraints, the ‘in between’ spaces and the relationship amongst exterior and interior, private and shared, to find opportunities to develop a concept that makes use of empty space.
The challenge is to reinvent or reimagine the site to become a destination for culture, wellbeing, creativity or learning. Students will explore and create solutions that are flexible, extensible and that can improve the human experience.
How can we transform a space into another with a completely different function working within the constraints of an existing building? Can one space become multi-functional? How the unused becomes usable? And most importantly, how can we design spaces that encourage users to interact with it and with each other, creating values and social and economic benefits for the community?
Elena Hastry, Year 3, Meanwhile in the city