Unit A

Welcome to Unit A blog [University of East London]


Unit A theme for 2017-18: Relational States

Unit Agenda
Unit A is interested in the morphology of the city by investigating relationships between space, programme, materiality and time.
The unit agenda engages in domains between architecture and urbanism and is based on an understanding of architecture as contextual response, critically questioning pre-existing conditions and found spaces within the city. If space is the outcome of collective action and therefore a “social product” (Henri Lefebvre), How exactly is space made? What are the factors driving the process? What roles do participants play? We will set out to get a better understanding of underlying principles contributing to urban change and to the formation of new types of collective space.

Spaces in the city are continuously negotiated, altered and adapted and are therefore in constant state of change. While the predominant reproduction of space follows rules of demand and supply, space in the city becomes increasingly commodified. Conditions of uncertainty however, including economic decline and political inactivity, produce spaces that fall out of the cycle of predominant spatial reproduction for periods of time. As a result of becoming obsolete, residual spaces emerge within the urban fabric in the form left-overs, vacant or unused territories. At this stage residual spaces become available to alternative modes of spatial production. New actors are attracted by unknown opportunities and new uses emerge. Most of those processes are of experimental nature and can be described as temporary and in-between uses, that provide a critical reinvention for the urban neighbourhood and local economy. “Pioneers” tend to claim vacant territories through direct occupation and unconventional approach; by extending their activities to attract a wider community a new network of social relations across the new spatial arrangements becomes established. This form of alternative production of space is widely recognised for generating social value in local communities. While it occurs in parallel to established cycles of urban regeneration, once the process of spatial stabilisation begins, the fundamental incompatibility of long-term goals between the two, however, becomes apparent. Questions arising out this conflict will become the matter of investigation for this year.

Study Area & Project Site
Dalston, Hackney. Dalston is one of London’s most rapidly changing areas of East London. Ashwin Street is seen as diverse hub as a result of initiatives by independent local players including Arcola theatre, Cafe oto, V22, Eastern curve garden, Bootstrap company as well as a large number of social & creative enterprises. The study area displays a wide range of spatial conditions, that relate to this years theme and will become subject of careful multi-dimensional study. The project sites are set within this context.

Briefs & Building Programme
Individual building briefs to be developed by students out of specific readings of site conditions and personal interest. Building programmes to resolve one of the urgent local needs:
A: Community Space (e.g. assembly, learning, recreation, etc);
B: Cultural Space (e.g. theatre, music, arts, etc);
C: Productive Space (e.g. brewery, bakery, etc.).
Special design focus will be placed on architectural thresholds that promote continuity of spatial experimentation by users and through strategies and structures that allow adaptability over time;

Design Methodology
Unit A provides a well structured learning framework to support processes of open, independent and critical thought fostering the individual designer in readiness for the real world of tomorrow.

We understand drawing not only as a means of presentation of spatial, material and strategic design, but more importantly as tool for developing critical and multi-dimensional thinking. We will hold a series of digital & CAD drawing workshops to support this.

Specialist workshops
Mould-making and casting workshops with specialist fabricator.

Berlin, Germany (15th -19th November)

Carsten’s practice zectorarchitects:           www.zectorarchitects.net
Fernanda’s practice Galeria Arquitetos:              www.galeria.arq.br