The city as campus

The London School of Architecture is based at Somerset House on Strand, overlooking the River Thames

The LSA uses the city as its campus, in order both to provide real-world learning and to reduce overheads – savings that are passed on to students in the form of lower fees. In the First Year, students are primarily based with their practices, while in the Second Year students are based at the LSA studio.

The LSA’s spatial provision now includes a permanent hub at Somerset House, where the core faculty and Second Years are based. Our Second Years are also all members of the professional workshop Makerversity, which is handily in the basement of Somerset House. Most of our taught programme is hosted by Spatial Partners in our Practice Network.

Each cohort tackles a different London borough for its two years on the programme. Engaging with the locality allows greater opportunities for shared urban analysis, deeper engagement with the architectural and urban issues, and the opportunity to test design experiments against real constraints and user groups.

The first cohort (2015-17) is looking at Soho, and the second cohort (2016-18) is looking at a strip of land running between the Tate Modern and King’s Cross.

Small yet connected

The LSA is not a dispersed model of learning, like the Open University. It is a creative culture in the city, more like Soho's lost Colony Room (the inspiration for this website)
The LSA isn’t virtual learning, like the Open University, but strives to establish a creative culture in one place. Think Soho’s lost Colony Room (which is, incidentally, the inspiration for this website)

We are a small school: we currently have 60 students split across the two cohorts, and the 2017/18 intake is capped at 40. As a social as well as a creative enterprise, the LSA is a family – not a factory ­– and we’d like all our students to know each other personally.

However, many times larger than the small student intake, we benefit from a wealth of professional collaborators: our Practice Network contains some 55 London-based firms, who also bring in their associated networks, from consultants and clients to engineers and artists.

Academia and practice

A still from The Fountainhead. Howard Roark was not the world's greatest team player. The LSA believes today architects should collaborate more
The Fountainhead’s Howard Roark wasn’t the best team player. The LSA believes in collaboration and that architects should engage with – rather than exploit – the world and its resources

We bring academia and practice closer together to enrich both. Work-based learning is designed to engender in students a greater understanding of their own power as practitioners, while the school provides practices with the space to explore ideas in a rigorous and speculative way.

We place an emphasis on collaborative working among practices and students, with both encouraged to establish links between architecture and adjacent disciplines and industries, and to explore the spatial consequences of the rapid expansion of knowledge in other fields.