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Eight Design Think Tanks aiming to transform the city

How can design improve the way we live in cities? Design Think Tanks (DTTs) at the LSA put forward proposals to help meet the targets set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Design Think Tanks are collaborative projects between students and leading architectural practices at the London School of Architecture. The UN Sustainable Development Goals address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. They are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

Each year the LSA selects a shortlist of DTT topics to be studied from a long list of suggestions made by the LSA Practice Network. The study topics suggested are ones that require urgent consideration, innovative thinking and design solutions that will generate significant social and environmental progress and beneficial urban change.

Students elect to work on one of the shortlisted study topics in collaborative groups of between six and eight led by senior staff from the sponsoring practice that suggested the DTT study topic. Generally, at least one member of each study group works with the sponsoring practice. LSA Faculty work with the DTT leaders to guide students through the research and design process.

The DTT studies are published in summary in Citizen Magazine and each group prepares a comprehensive report setting out the research and design propositions for distribution to political leaders, administrators, business leaders and opinion formers in London and beyond.

2020/21 Design Think Tanks


Objective: To imagine new high street building typologies ingrained in the characteristics of their local neighbourhoods that promote and develop the local economy and create socially inclusive and sustainable neighbourhoods. Read the full brief here


Beer Street and Gin Lane, William Hogarth, (1751).

Higher Goals: Decent work and economic growth (UN SDG 08); Sustainable cities and communities (UN SDG 11); Responsible Consumption (UN SDG 12).

Leaders: Andrew McEwen, Yasir Azami (Orms) Esther Escribano (Studio Weave). Students: Dougie Haseler, Oliver Flew, Cameron Angus, Francesca Taplin, Ryan Hart, Carlos Pereira. Mentor: Pierre Longhini


Spatial Justice

Objective: to explore design solutions to create visions for a fair, just and inclusive city; to will identify the outcomes of spatial (in) justices and explore the more complex societal biases which predicate, permit and sustain these inequalities.; to seeks to reveal sites where injustice happens and the mechanisms which have shaped systemic bias in our cities over time through research, analysis and mapping. Read the full brief here


Higher Goals: Gender Equality (UN SDG 5); Reduced Inequalities (UN SDG 10); Sustainable Cities and Communities (UN SDG 11); Climate Action (UN SDG 13); Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (UN SDG 16)

Leaders: Deborah Saunt, Seyi Adewole, Sanket Ghatalia, Paul Bourel (DSDHA) Ming Cheng (Urban Architecture). Students: Santong Li, Estefany Oropeza, Aarandeep Sian, George Wallis, Aïssatou Diallo, Mohini Devi Tahalooa, Freddie Hutchinson. Mentor: Alessandro Carlucci


Urban Agriculture

Objective: to support innovative ideas which advocate for, develop and implement the growth of urban agriculture in our city through visionary architectural design; to focus on the cultural and experiential benefits of bringing food into the heart of the city. Read the full brief here



Higher Goals: Zero Hunger (UN SDG 1); Good Health and Well-being (UN SDG 3); Sustainable Cities and Communities (UN SDG 11); Responsible Consumption and Production (UN SDG 12); Climate Action (UN SDG 13)

Leaders: Christophe Egret, Josh Thomas (Studio Egret West) Maria-Chiara Piccinelli (PiM Studio). Students: Alexandra Totoianu, Margaret Ibeawuchi, Judit Korpai, James Gordon, Amir Noori, Joshua Sturgess, Sabrina Leung. Mentor: Alec Crisp


Connecting Communities

Objective: to locate and explore how domestic spaces bridge the connection to shared community realms within Hackney to create a social infrastructure network, the think tank will then zoom in to certain sites to develop spatial propositions. Read the full brief here



Higher Goals: Good health and well-being (UN SDG 3); Reduced inequalities (UN SDG 10); Sustainable Cities and Communities (UN SDG 11)

Leaders: Angie Jim Osman, Nick Keen, Karman Wan (Allies & Morrison) Thomas Bryans (IF_DO). Students: Jack Morgan, Jevgenija Tocilina, Georgie Herety, Sam Brooke, Adara Wicaksono, Chris Jones, Sian Wells. Mentor: Louie Austen


Shifting Gear

Objective: to look at cycling and walking infrastructure as a ‘place’ – the journey as enjoyable part of people’s day-to-day lives linked to shared communal spaces and a sense of community; to address health and wellbeing in cities – a fragile and difficult to achieve objective, yet so important to develop resilience for both people and our planet. Read the full brief here



Higher Goals: Decent Work and Economic Growth (UN SDG 8); Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (UN SDG 9);  Sustainable Cities and Communities (UN SDG 11)

Leaders: Petra Marko (Marko&Placemakers) Steve Smith (Urban Narrative). Students: Dominika Pilch, Joe Hicks, Sebastian Maher, Elliott Rawlinson, Emma Williams, Sam Pywell. Mentor: Cristina Gaidos


Symbiotic Cities

Objective: to develop proposals to maximize these new opportunities and ways of living, working and playing within the lens of
a 15minute city approach that can enable and foster community; to explore the new norm, what this could be going forward, and how this can be fed into the built environment to create sustainable and resilient communities with a positive lifestyle balance encouraged by intergenerational living and inclusive spaces; to investigate how communities can have a part in placemaking, as well as how these new relationships can expand symbiosis into our built environment by researching possible economic models. Read the full brief here


U-TT, Torre David, Caracas, Venezuela. Credit: Daniel Schwartz/U-TT at ETH


Higher Goals: Sustainable cities and communities (UN SDG 11); Reduced inequalities (UN SDG 10); Responsible Consumption and Production (UNSDG 12)

Leaders: Pedro Roos, Holly Harrington (PDP London) Heather Macey (McAslan). Students: Jayden Luk, Nina Watts, Harriet Stride, Sam Butler, Peter Salman, Jake Obichere, Regen James Gregg. Mentor: Joe Walker



Objective: to design a disruptive innovation in housing at the scale of a neighbourhood that integrates new opportunities for living, working and leisure to enable residents to lead prosperous, purposeful and fulfilled lives, while contributing to the regeneration of the planet. Read the full brief here


Higher Goals: Good Health and Well-being (UN SDG 3); Clean Water and Sanitation (UN SDG 6); Affordable and Clean Energy (UN SDG 7); Decent Work and Economic Growth (UN SDG 8); Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (UN SDG 9); Reduced Inequality (UN SDG 10); Sustainable Cities and Communities (UN SDG 11); Responsible Consumption and Production (UN SDG 12); Climate Action (UN SDG 13); Life on Land (UN SDG 15)

Leaders: Will Hunter, Javier Quintana de Una (IDOM) Fenella Collingridge (Salter + Collingridge). Connie Emery, Mikolaj Strug, Euan McGregor, Kate Palmer, Tomasz Owsianka, Daniel Wood, Will Tooze. Mentor: Studio 8Fold


Home Office

Objective: to create informed, provocative and inspirational design proposals that question how we utilise redundant office space in the city to create a more democratic and diverse city centre; to explore the opportunities that lie in this newly released real estate. Read the full brief here



Higher Goals: Good Health and Wellbeing (UN SDG 3); Decent Work & Economic Growth (UN SGD 8); Reduced Inequalities (UN SDG 10); Sustainable Cities & Communities (UN SDG 11)

Leaders: Rafael Marks, Anna-Lisa Pollock (Penoyre & Prasad) Blazej Czuba (Maccreanor Lavington). Students: Abigail Glancy, Jack McGuinness, Ash Zul Parquear, Jonathan Boon, Jack Rankin, Leo Sixsmith. Mentor: Charlotte Hurley