FIRST LOOK AT SECOND YEAR SOHO DESIGN PROJECTS
In Second Year – our Proto-Practice Year – students develop individual thesis design projects that establish their own critical trajectory. This selection of 10 gives a glimpse into some of the ideas brewing with our first graduates that will be unveiled at the LSA Summer Show
XXXSML – Duncan McNaughton
London’s population is growing at a rate far exceeding new housing provision. As well as mass housing at the city edge, the London of the future needs new housing typologies to increase density in the city center. This project proposes a new type of microapartment building where apartments as small as 12sqm provide affordable accommodation in the center of London in Soho. But how can living in such minimised conditions be dignified and livable at all? Beyond reducing square metres, this project describes a lifestyle of urban intensity, sociability and partying in luxurious shared spaces on the apartment roof top and deep-plan.
Slack City – Chiara Barrett
London is eating itself. The prevailing monocultural developments continue to displace cultural production to the city’s fringes and beyond. Westminster council’s enterprise programme endeavours to maintain 8 per cent of the UK’s creative industries within the borough. The proposal for a 24-hour piece of city layers housing, workspace, and community uses to foster interdependence. The project reconfigures the existing fabric in the council’s £200 million Church Street regeneration area into a series of courtyards within the city block; providing ‘slack space’ for cultural production.
The Soho Commons – Raphael Arthur
As Oxford Street swells with economic power it increasingly marginalises those with meagre consumer means, continuing to perpetuate siloed public activity and frequently breach the EU directive for pollution levels with its traffic.
As such, this proposal appropriates Oxford street – siphoning its resources – to form an Urban Commons, providing an armature for acts of commoning and collective cultural production. By pedestrianising part of Oxford St between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road and inserting a civic spine with raised platforms, new high value retail space can be created, making use of the anonymous upper floors of Oxford St and the economic gain used to fund new civic spaces in the centre of the street juxtaposed with retail spaces along the strip.
Physically this manifests as a light touch armature that allows for a quick and responsive infrastructure. It is a composite structure of timber and steel, timber at where it meets the ground offering tactility and warmth at the human scale. it is an additive architecture that employs devices like colonnades, platforms, totems, enclosures and demarcation as thresholds to offer a generous yet responsive public realm.
Tectvirtus – Nick Keen
17th century London was a place of craft, when the street of soho where fleshed out with buildings. Terraces where built along Great Pulteney Street, housing; brick layers, carpenter, joiners and coach painters. They practices physical trades, Ontic trades.
21st century soho is a very different place, the streets lie in the same position and some of the houses remain. Technology has started the next industrial revolution, Ontic has become the virtual, with the main industry being digital production. Alive, loud workshops and bustling streets have become sterile fields of computer screens, with the streets filled with transient workers or GPS navigating tourists. Technology is increasingly separating us from our physical world, affecting our streets, communities and health.
Tectvirtus is the physical antidote to our progressive technology. It does not reject technology rather it provides a pause in the city where digital workers and the public can rest in a physical environment. A place where we feel more human as a result of our bodies reacting to something physical. Public routes are defined by a soft concrete tectonic which weaves through the building revealing different spaces, the journey culminates in a place of discussion, story telling and the spoken act of transferring knowledge is the primal act which defines us as human.
The spaces for the workers resides in the interstitial volume left between the public spaces. It is a place to explore the tectonic and structure of the building, again a route through the building reveals different places to provide an antidote to the digital production these workers carry out.
Soho School of Soft Skills – Fearghal Moran
Young people are being are not being adequately prepared for the world of work. In 2015, 51 per cent did not finish their A levels. This significantly disadvantages a huge number of young people and limits their opportunity for social mobility.
The Soho School of Soft Skills aims to bridge the gap between education and employment. A campus choreographed around existing institutions in Soho in the underused and overlooked spaces. Its core aim is to increase social mobility for every child leaving school.
While students are at present one of the most mobile social groups of technologically advanced societies the nature of their own particular production plants, schools, colleges and universities is static, introspective, parochial, inflexible and not very useful.
The Soho School of Soft Skills is an incremental building that learns and changes as the students learns and changes. Students will learn their skills in real world situations in Soho institutions gaining valuable soft skill experience, they will then demonstrate, deposit and disseminate their new knowledge in a new focal building, which will also enhance the public realm and invite the public in to share the learning experience.
Save Soho. Save what? – Maeve Dolan
Soho has historically been home to a medley of people living, working and making among each other. Its streets and buildings were enlivened by this jostle of uses. But now the vibrancy of everyday life, sustained by workspaces and affordable homes, is fast disappearing. Monoculture development is pushing out the users who create the friction, quirk and complexity that make Soho so unique.
This project explores an alternative destiny for Soho. What if its urban fabric could be densified to once again host this rich mix? It proposes a Local Development Order allowing Soho’s roofs and back-of-house spaces to host new self-build live/work developments. These operate as Community Land Trusts. The project focuses in on one of these schemes: a central high-rise development which, alongside the live and work spaces, hosts a makers’ space where the components for the all the structures across Soho are created.
A spatial grid is applied to the scheme. Working with an architect and a catalogue of parts, prospective residents can determine the arrangement and type of private space they require. The power to produce is put back into the hands of the people that will live there. Individual residential units are compact, as there are many shared facilities throughout the building. Circulation is seen as a critical part of this communal space.
The project reconsiders the balance between living and working and between the private and the collective. It stands for the city as a democratic place of plurality, friction and encounter.
Info-Point: Tourist Information for Soho – Phelan Heinsohn
London attracted a record number of tourists in 2015, with 31.5 million people visiting the capital, a 20 per cent increase on five years ago. Sadiq Khan says ‘It is fantastic that more people than ever before are opting to visit London, to sample the best of our capital and the best of Britain. London has something for everyone and an appeal that clearly extends across the globe.’
Soho as an area is not only a creative hot-spot but also a critical asset to London as a people magnet. As part of Westminsterís West End Stress Area, there is a political desire to make this, together with Covent Garden, an area of increased intensity. Together with the imminent ‘threat’ of the incoming Cross-Rail stations this leads to a reactionary position of false protectionism.
What this project proposes is to show, comment on and exploit this factual symbiosis that is spuriously identified as a threat: Soho is reliant on its visitors as a means to propel its brand(name) whereas the visitor is reliant on Soho being a ‘real’ place of authentic work and play.
On the macro scale the project is a series of buildings that demarcate the ‘authentic’ Soho. All of theses buildings have a mixed-use programme, consisting of a public and a local programme. This intensifies the area even further – much like Koolhaas’s Voluntary prisoners of architecture. As this project shows building a wall actually has an opposite effect: the newly defined inside becomes even more desirable.
Retail Retold – Tim Lindstedt
Intro: 24.04.2013, Rana Plaza, Bangladesh; 1129 death, 2500 injured and a £7-jeans in a generic high street shop front. By challenging the black boxed fast fashion industry with a radical transparency model of price and process, this project investigates a new typology of retail in which the costumer is confronted with the dependency of product and production, enabling a direct interaction between designer, maker and consumer. On the old footprint of the Soho Bazaar we ultimately make a decision about the value and joy of work.
Re-embodying Education – Frazer Haviz
Education kills creativity. We are taught in a school system which has hardly changed in the past 150 years and is still, in essence, a factory for learning. Schools do not equip children with the tools they need to prosper in today’s world.
This project seeks to provide young children with the skills to understand themselves in relation to the world around them. A series of play structures, each with a specific function relating to meditation (understanding the self), storytelling (culture) and exploration (play), provide the infrastructure for learning, augmenting the government’s outdated toolkit. Each structure is accessed from street level and through existing buildings, integrating children into society from a young age.
Break the Block – Dan Lee
Break the block anticipates large scale, urban transformations as a consequence of the two new Crossrail stations in Soho. An increase of footfall and a new transient demographic will transform the experience of Soho’s streets.
This project a theatrical moment where old and new worlds overlap within a labyrinth of rooms that reflect Soho’s old configurations of space. Populated within fragments of old buildings that are aligned to create elevated streets. Arranged in a way that brings architectural history closer, making new relationships with built form and use.