This year, Unit 6 investigated the York Way Estate’s boundary with Caledonian Park in North London with access provided by the community group Friends of Caledonian Park. We started the year with a hands-on-project, Amphitheatre in the Park, which faced the boundary wall between the park and the estate. This was followed by the main project of the year which looked at ways to transform the hard boundary wall into a loose border condition into which students introduced appropriate social infrastructure to create and expand a common civic ground. Students were encouraged to find new ways of representing their ideas, fostering cooperation between fellow students and provoking new ways of looking, imagining and representing. These ways of working and seeing included: exploration (mapping and sketching); hands on construction with community groups; developing a narrative brief; fitting fabric and form to site, and inhabitation in a fully worked out building proposal.
Student proposals included: urban farms and allotments, a range of schools and nurseries, community greenhouses, a homeless hostel, a theatre and local radio station, various libraries, a cooperative supermarket and children’s playrooms.
Studies were carried out with optimism, in the expectation that the creative interplay between the energy of the students and the residents’ ongoing act of dwelling would generate a valuable and meaningful architectural discourse around engagement with the opportunities and responsibilities available to transform the existing setting into a rich and life affirming civic topography.