LSA Design Think Tank – New Knowledge
New Knowledge, a Design Think Tank at the LSA, explored architecture’s potential in the sharing economy, and proposed a new mode of practice connecting people, places and practitioners to create more vibrant and diverse cities
Given the current global crises and architecture’s institutional inertia, it was obvious that a new way of working needed to emerge for the profession to remain relevant. Instead of bemoaning the architect’s dwindling position, New Knowledge resolved to view this crisis as an opportunity for revolutionary change in the digital age. Seeking inspiration from the economic models and online platforms of innovative companies such as AirBnB and Uber, as well as gaining confidence from recent trends of socially-engaged design within the profession, SWARM was born.
Put simply, SWARM is an online platform. Using a digitally connected and ever-evolving network of individuals, it links those with expertise to those with desire to transform the city. Thanks to the invention of smart technology it has no need for a base – SWARM, London’s largest multidisciplinary practice, is EVERYWHERE.
The 3 key components of SWARM’s constitution is the promotion of agile, dynamic and proactive practice, shared and connected processes, and engaged, widespread urban impact. Enabling SWARM to uphold these principles in practice is its toolkit: a network of knowledge, a platform to share that knowledge and regulations to ensure the application of it on a large scale.
SWARM is essentially a collective of people, across multiple disciplines, creating a new culture of work, based on a very old concept: SHARING. Through research New Knowledge had discovered that architects are not alone in their identity crisis; that massive change is impacting all professions and that they too, like us, are beginning to forge paths to new ways of working. It seems everyone is thinking the same thing, but acting separately. SWARM is the means to join together these similar but separate actions to create synergy and share the task of fostering a rich, healthy and relatable urban environment.
At the Venice Biennale in May 2016, Pritzker prize winner Alejandro Aravena spoke to the next generation of architects saying, ‘The only animal that can defeat the rhinoceros is the mosquito…or a cloud of mosquitos actually.’
He made a slight error. He meant to say SWARM.
New Knowledge Led by Javier Quintana from Idom and Lionel Real de Azúa from Red Deer, New Knowledge explores architecture’s critical intersection with other disciplines. Its practice members are DSDHA, Idom, Prewett Bizley, Red Deer, RSH+P, Soda, WHAT_Architecture and 5th Studio; and its student members are Rachel Bow, Maeve Dolan, Stuart Goldsworthy-Trapp, Frazer Haviz, Vanessa Jobb, Timothy Ng and Milly Salisbury.