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In January 2018 the LSA’s Design Think Tanks begin a four-month design/research project involving First Years and architects from the LSA Practice Network. The work will culminate with an exhibition and publication in the summer during London Festival of Architecture. Each Design Think Tank aims to address at least two of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Adaptive Typologies – Superdense living

How dense can we go? Super-dense housing in China.

Superdensity is currently being proposed as a sustainable and viable solution to the housing and land crisis in London. This approach was recently reinforced in the new draft London Plan eliminating maximum densities in future developments. While many cities around the world have a long history of such dense living, London’s urban growth has historically been characterised by lower densities. In the present headlong rush to build housing, in our developer-driven environment, much of it is designed for numbers over quality of life, from the outside in, privileging image over substance. Adaptive Typologies will explore the meaning of density and the implications of living in superdense housing. Through a series of different design exercises, we will investigate the limits of density for a mixed and diverse community. We will explore what it is like to live its constraints and possibilities through designing for a number of specific sites, then bring these investigations into a single typology.


Leaders: Gillian Horn (Penoyre & Prasad), Angie Jim Osman (Allies and Morrison), Andrew McEwan (Orms), Richard Lavington (Maccreanor Lavington), Rafael Marks (Penoyre & Prasad), Sunand Prasad (Penoyre & Prasad) and Suzi Winstanley (Penoyre & Prasad) Practices: Penoyre & Prasad, Allies and Morrison, Maccreanor Lavington, Jan Kattein Architects, One Works, Orms with GLA input on inclusivity. Students: Alice Hardy, Cristina Galdos, Nelli Wahlsten, Pierre Longhini, Seyi Adewole, Tim Rodber

Architectural Agency – Designing for a new democracy

Hornsey Town Hall by Reginald Uren

The political journalist Moisés Naím wrote in his book The End of Power: ‘In this era of revolutionary change, where almost nothing we do or experience in our daily lives has been left unaffected, one critical area remains surprisingly untouched: the way we govern ourselves, our communities, nations and the international system’. For many Londoners the haunting shadow of Grenfell Tower is an architectural symbol for the systematic failings of local governance across the capital. The tragedy embodied the consequence of a constant austerity drive and wider issues of social disengagement, forming a disconnect between local officialdom and residents. Using the London Borough of Haringey as a test bed to start our investigations Architectural Agency will create a civic laboratory, a new forum for public debate, a series of gathering spaces which reflects the communities that it serves, free from intimidating institutional hush. This new architecture and spatial network does not aim to be an imposing statement of government or a shiny temple of public administration, but to bring democracy back to where it began: to the heart of a city’s public space.


Leaders: Will Alsop, Amanda Callaghan, Maxine Pringle and James Wignall (aLL Design) Practices: aLL Design and Orms. Students: Annecy Attlee, Craig Page, Josh Fenton, Simon Banfield, Vojtḝch Nḝmec

Emerging Tools – Infrastructure-related development

Sou Fujimoto’s Rental Space Tower, a prototype for shared living space, for the Tokyo real estate company Daito Trust Construction.

In response to the GLA’s London Infrastructure Plan 2050, and the developing proposals for Crossrail 2, we seek to question the policy, technologies, procurement, and forms that infrastructure-related development takes, using a propositional project for a transport hub at one of the new Crossrail 2 sites as a testbed for alternative possibilities. We recognise that infrastructure development will play a critical role in supporting the population growth of the city, but we want to look at ways that this development can be achieved in line with UN SDG 9, to ‘build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation’. Using a particular suburban site, we want to show how the construction of new transport hubs can be used as a force for humane, inclusive and sustainable development and investment, through a mixed-use architectural proposal for an above and/or below ground station project, with the potential for new green industries.


Leaders: Tessa Baird (OEB Architects), Harbinder Birdi (Hawkins\Brown), Benjamin Graham and Rae Whittow-Williams (PDP London) Practices: Hawkins\Brown, PDP London and Karakusevic Carson Architects. Students: Fraser Morrison, Matthew Barnett, Maxim Sas, Nicholas Shewan, Persa Tzemetzi, Sara Lambridis

Global Currents – Another Density

An example of a different approach to high density. ‘Highrise of Homes theoretical project’ (SITE, 1981)

Traditional approaches to increasing density in urban areas seem to not cope anymore. The urban environment that is generated (from public space to skyline, from air quality to lifestyle) is being questioned as the original layout of capital cities was never imagined for today’s populations. The impact of high density on social organisation generates segregation proportional to population growth. The case of London is paradigmatic, as in addition to the above, there are other issues affecting the public’s perception of high-rise architecture. We refer to the impossibility to solve the lack of residential space with just scattered towers, the impact of the new high-rises in the skyline, their collision with the ageing infrastructure, safety, or the artificial financial mechanism which generates some of them. Using London as a testbed for global ideas, we will explore how other cultures and countries are trying to solve urban issues created by increasing density. London will become a living laboratory, as we analyse potential new routes to high density without challenging the surroundings or the values of human experience, the British urban model and its architectural types.


Leaders: Joseph Zeal-Henry (Jestico + Whiles), Steven Kennedy (Grimshaw), Javier Quintana (IDOM) and Chris Worsfold (Wimshurst Pelleriti) Practices: IDOM, Grimshaw, Jestico + Whiles and Wimshurst Pelleriti. Students: Abiel Hagos, Cameron Lintott, James Clarke, Robert Buss, Roni Zachor Barak

Metabolic City – A Hybrid Health Hotel


How can the city of the future take advantage of advances in technology to offer new and unexpected opportunities for wellbeing?

London is sick. Pollution, stress, poverty, lengthy commutes, and restrictions on council amenities mean that despite the opportunities available to some, many are unable to live well. UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 asks designers and developers to promote well-being for all. In the UK issues such as obesity, an ageing population and mental health concerns put strain on an already overwhelmed National Health Service. We are looking for ways in which architecture and city design can help relieve the pressure, particularly focusing on provision for those who are unable to access opportunities that currently exist. Thinking beyond today, how might automated transportation, improvements in cycling provision and the effect of the sharing economy alongside new monitoring technologies, affect our approach to well-being?


Leaders: Pooja Agrawal (GLA), Christophe Egret (Studio Egret West), Tomas Klassnik (Klassnik Corporation) and David West (Studio Egret West) Practices: Studio Egret West and Klassnik Corporation. Students:Alessandro Carlucci, Eloise Rogers, Joe Walker, Katie Oliver, Samuel Nicholls, Tom Badger, William Bellamy

New Knowledge – Ecology

T-Centralen Station, Stockholm

We are witnessing a pattern of human activity that is, according to NASA, with 95 per cent certainty causing unprecedented changes to the world around us. In short we are now in the Anthropocene. Yet little public discourse is currently tackling the enormity of the situation. Carbon offsetting and recycling our coffee cups is just not going to cut it. We need to rethink our entire relationship with the world as a whole. We need to start thinking ecologically. We intend to propose a new model for living together ecologically, creating a manifesto for living together, without nature, and without humanity. Spatially, we will focus on atria: the architectural elements that mediate between the private individual and the world at large. From the Roman Villa to the Poor Door of modern ‘affordable’ housing they reflect how we view our relationship with each other and the world. We will focus on what these spaces may be in a new mode of ecological living. The outcome will be an urban scale proposition for a new residential community situated in Southwark


Leaders: Anthony Engi-Meacock and Giles Smith (Assemble) Practices: Assemble. Students: Maelys Garreau, Matthew Lo, Michael Cradock, Phillipine Wright, Tobias Parrott, Živilė Volbikaitė