Design Think Tanks 2023/24

The Design Think Tank (DTT) is the LSA’s most innovative module, generating creative design propositions informed by rigorous research aimed at addressing tangible built environment issues in London. Think Tanks are conducted by collaborative teams of Students and leading figures in Practice; they explore subjects and issues rooted in contemporary practice and the future of the city proposed by the Practice Network.

For 2023/24, there we 10 Design Think Tanks that covered a range of sectors and themes from thinking about the city post-policing to designing LGTBQ+ inclusive housing. Over the last few months our students have worked with a wide range of practices and other collaborators, including research collectives, engineers and local authorities, to develop these design proposals. Each DTT has written a short statement about their research and design submission – learn more below!

The City Post-Policing

by Abel Asmah, Bonnie Ha, Polly Chiddicks, Sakariye Ahmed, Wiame Azzouzi and Benjamin Daughtry

This Design Think Tank explores the spatial, social and architectural implications of defunding the police and aims to create spatial justice using Hackney as a test model for London as a whole. Our research interrogates how we can achieve a future safer city and address the institutional racism, homophobia and misogynistic values deeply ingrained within the Metropolitan Police.

We propose to replace the MET structure with a collaborative multi-agency approach where safety is integrated into community care and empowerment. 

We will divest and invest the existing resources into:

  • House of Hackney: transformation of the existing police station.
  • Design In Community: a toolkit ensuring community well-being and social justice within the built environment.
  • Neighbourhood Walks: smaller, more intimate beats.
  • Hands of Hackney: local aides that support and enhance community engagement and security. 
  • Community Touchpoints: Laundrettes as innovative urban police boxes for emergencies.

 The City Post-Policing was led by DSDHA. Their LSA Design Tutor was Nicola Antaki.


Family Hubs

by Finn Monaghan, Jamie Stuart, Jessica Kendall, Monica White, Zoe Ingram and Michael Agostini

“It Takes a Village” proposes to make Hackney a more supportive and welcoming place for families.

The project is a response to the recent ‘Family Hubs’ policy, which aims to coordinate social and health services, focused on improving early years development through a ‘one stop shop’. We believe this policy does not go far enough to embed care and create lasting impact. Through conversations with Shoreditch Trust, a Hackney charity, we have gained insight into the issues people face and the barriers preventing them from accessing support. 

As an alternative to the state imposed centralised Family Hub model, It Takes a Village proposes a network of hyper-local ‘Family Rooms’ for communities to address local needs through a tailored programme. Through a local levy, charities and local people will have the funding and autonomy needed to provide high quality community care in spaces that are welcoming and accessible to all.

Family Hubs was led by Waugh Thistleton. Their LSA Design Tutor was Daniel Marmot.


Rekindling Faith

by Jeffrey Kwong, Eleanor Worthington, Gurpreet Lotay, Jacob Skeates, Jess Simpson and Sophie Robson

Faith shapes, and has always shaped, cities. Our current planning system likes to pretend otherwise. Rekindling Faith seeks to acknowledge the sustaining presence of faith in modern society, and draw upon faith practice and conviction to create more sacred public space.

Recognising the dynamic landscape of faith practice in London, we propose recognition of faith within the London Plan, and to form a temporary Use Class to facilitate the public celebration of faith-based events.

Using Finsbury Park Station as a test-bed site, we present a series of interventions using our policy points to foster faith. These interventions draw on our research into faith practices and lie on a spectrum from public celebration to private reflection, each offering a different experience to the user to punctuate journeys through the station

Rekindling Faith was led by Studio Egret West. Their LSA Design Tutor was Pete Jennings.


House Proud

by Ashita Roongta, Jack Atkinson, Hanah Humphrey, Isabella Hicks, Jack Parish and Thady Smyth

We are HOUSE PROUD, an architecture think tank developing a vision for queer affirming housing. Our mission is to create a home for the LGBTQ+ community. A home in the sense of both a place people live, but also a place where people feel they belong. We have been tasked with tackling two specific challenges faced by the queer community in the UK. We believe that this proposal not only offers solutions to these problems, but uplifts, affirms and celebrates queer lives.

The primary objectives of this project are twofold: to provide safe and inclusive environments for queer youth and elders, and to challenge systemic inequalities and discrimination within the built environment. By integrating design guidelines and standards that prioritize LGBTQ+ sensitivity, trauma- informed care, and age-friendly principles, the aim is to create spaces that affirm the dignity and worth of all individuals, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation.

We reject the notion of a one-size-fits-all approach to architecture. Our approach acknowledges the diverse identities within LGBTQIA+ communities and prioritizes flexibility and adaptability in architectural solutions. We believe in creating spaces that actively challenge heteronormative and ageist attitudes. Safe and inclusive environments should be welcoming to all individuals, providing a sense of belonging and acceptance. This includes designing gender- neutral bathrooms, incorporating LGBTQ+ history and symbolism into the built environment, and challenging ageist stereotypes through intergenerational programming and design. 

House Proud was led by IF_DO and Feix & Merlin. Their LSA Design Tutor was Mat Barnes.


Unlocking Site Significance

by Beyyinah Ahmed, Bowen Ng, Koby Wong, Louis Hermawan, Ruby Mears, George Davies-Foo and Christina Njoku

This Think Tank, Unlocking Site Significance, explores the role that industry must play to enable the city to thrive, extending inclusivity to all residents, irrespective of their profession or social standing. In collaboration with Allies and Morrison and through a chosen site and case study, the research develops a design guide and policy template for other boroughs to follow, which encourages industrial sites to empower blue collar workers in the city. 

Working towards a zero-carbon city, industry must undergo significant decarbonisation processes in order to survive. The Workers’ Club is introduced on site as a vehicle for the just transition to green industry. The Think Tank highlights the importance of blue-collar workers and investment to retain, train, and strengthen industry to promote equal access to the city.

Unlocking Site Significance was led by Allies and Morrison. Their LSA Design Tutor was Siraaj Mitha.


Radical Sharing

by Christy Allen, Ella Ashworth, Jamie McVay, Jasmin Yeo and Olivia Marriott

Using Fellows Court and Weymouth Court (Hackney) as a site of experimentation, this Design Think Tank (DTT) seeks to re-imagine the structures that govern the housing estate to propose a new model of management that foregrounds reproductive labour and collective stewardship. Addressing issues of housing justice, poor maintenance and the traditionally privatised nature of reproductive labour that devalues this essential work. With Hackney Council exploring the potential of garage sites on the estate for the delivery of new infill social housing, this project is driven by the proposition of ‘redesigning the block for public luxury’. Ultimately, questioning what the idea of ‘public luxury’ means in the context of Hackney, and in light of the climate crisis, how the use of existing buildings and resource distribution can be re-imagined to aid in more resilient communities and increased latent capacity.

Radical Sharing was led by Edit Collective. Their LSA Design Tutor was Alberte Lauridsen.



by Amy Wilkinson, Finlay Swain, George Gunn, Sarfaraz Salim, Barnabas Madzokere, Junsoo Pak and George Moldovan

The ambition to upgrade school stock in the Uk is monumental, and extends far beyond the domain of architectural design. The scale of the challenge, complexity of funding, and urgent need for remediation, presents a landscape which is dense with contrasting voices and guidance principles. How can we cut through this congestion to produce a viable solution which is versatile enough to adapt per scenario, yet unified in its approach to schooling ? 

Working alongside the DfE and RSHP, Platform has devised an adaptable kit of parts applicable to retrofit, bolt-on extension, and new build scenarios. Interventions respond to our four design pillars in order to adequately upgrade not only building fabric, but the way schools operate in order to improve pupil experience. The duty of schools within their communities has also been challenged in order to make them more accessible and integral to context, breaking down their boundaries to encourage alternate uses. 

Platform was led by RSHP. Their LSA Design Tutor was Alpa Depani.

Into The Dark

by Alfonso Campoy, Corben Lai, Dominic O’Dea, James Langham, Nicholas Blacker and Molly Robinson.

Into the Dark was a think tank presented by Dis.Collective, Carly Dickson and Hackney Council. Our objective was to improve disabled communities’ claims on the night. We asked the question ‘Who Owns the Night?’ and who does not.

Our aim was to shift the focus of traditional accessible design from physical access to the quality of space. Our testing ground was Broadway Market, Hackney where we advocated greater agency in users through a more comprehensive co-design approach throughout the RIBA Stages.

Through a series of co-design methodologies, the design outcomes materialised as a series of unique spaces which related to participants desires, forming a West / East connection dubbed the ‘Residents’ Route’, which would improve the comfort, abundance and spontaneity of disabled residents’ choices. The route starts at a new accessible housing development, along a rejuvenated outdoor green area and finishes at the one-of-a-kind Disabled Co-operative nightclub, AKA The Dis.Co.

Into The Dark was led by Dis.Collective. Their LSA Design Tutor was Dann Jessen.

The Future of Craft

by Anna Dixon, Daniel Stone, James Hancock, Nursah Selamet and Marlowe McMillan

What is the future of craft? Our brief was broad, and so our problem was framed by voices. We spoke to craftspeople and we found a clear set of needs not being met, and increasing pressure from competing uses. We saw craft as meaningful, valuable work. We found a historical context in the work of urbanists and societal thinkers. What’s more, the workshops and studios we studied are deeply embedded in their local community, dependent on and contributing to a complex web of infrastructure, mutual support and knowledge sharing. We looked hard at those networks and tried to find sustainable models of organisation. 

Taking the Ravenswood Industrial Estate as a case study, we intensified craft on this site and applied strategies learned to other sites at different scales within Waltham Forest.

By finding physical space for craft, by building structures of knowledge sharing, by connecting to larger organisations and collectives; we believe it will grow.

The Future of Craft was led by Weston Williamson. Their LSA Design Tutor was Eddie Blake.