Unit 08: Enough Already

Unit 8 has studied the notion of "enough." During a period of intense global uncertainty, students interrogated the Unit’s provocation that the city might already have enough; enough resources, enough buildings, enough space.

Amidst a climate in crisis and a collapsing consensus on how we ought to live, how do we measure an architectural response that represents only and exactly enough? In response to this question, a body of work has emerged exploring intensified uses for the buildings and spaces we already have at our disposal.

Working at two radically different scales, students explored tenets of private sufficiency, public luxury, and the reuse of buildings – all within a context of conservation, land ownership and gentrification in London’s Spitalfields and Brick Lane.

Collaboration has been central to the Unit’s approach. From the rigorous surveys preceding each design project to the collective re-imagination of Brick Lane, the year has been defined by close, productive, and amicable cooperation between students. Sharing of work, knowledge, and ideas has enriched and added substantial depth to the proposed architecture – an achievement made all the more impressive by the pandemic conditions faced throughout the year.

At 25 Princelet Street, careful line drawings, photography, and model making of the existing led to proposals combining new public and private programmes through bold architectural intervention. Once home to Swiss architect and polymath Annetta Pedretti, the intimate Grade II-listed Georgian townhouse was explored collaboratively with Assemble, who are leading a live project to reopen the house as a site of grassroots local activism.

At the large Truman Brewery site, students later collaboratively proposed alterations to Brick Lane at the scale of the urban block, before making individual public building proposals in loose dialogue with one another - occupying, expanding, and reimagining the Brewery’s existing building stock.

Both projects have been informed by a playful year-long seminar programme, taking in the Modern Movement through the lens of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. Parallels between the upheaval of the 20th century and the present day have been explored and articulated through each architectural proposal – from the potential of a Miesian plinth along Brick Lane to the figurative associations between services, structure, and architecture in the city.

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