about

what if: projects develop ideas and strategies for more sustainable urban environments. Proposals for change are based on a detailed understanding of a place and the people that inhabit it. The engagement of stakeholders and local communities is essential to the development and delivery of all our projects.

what if: projects research, initiate, develop and deliver improvements to the communal, green and transport infrastructure of London. The scale of our projects ranges from small low-budget interventions to large strategic work. Working collaboratively with local authorities, stakeholders and diverse neighbourhoods we support the process of defining shared objectives and help bring different organisations, people and funding streams together to realise projects on the ground.

what if: projects consider Londons’ streets as vital in supporting public life and improving people’s living quality. Since 2014 the team has been working on the award winning Mini Holland project with Waltham Forest to radically improve the borough’s cycle infrastructure, footways and public realm. In 2015 what if: projects completed the new Rainham Station forecourt positioning it as a welcoming place of arrival and departure to the local marshes and the historic village.

what if: projects have set up and delivered a number of acclaimed community led projects that address the need for shared space in high density urban environments and on inner city housing estates in London. Most recently we have helped to initiate the public and privately funded Livesey Exchange on Old Kent Road, Castle Place workshops in Elephant&Castle and the award winning Charterhouse Road Club on the Samuel Lewis Trust Estate in Hackney. Since 2015 the team are working on the refurbishment of the sheltered housing scheme Hogarth Court in Whitechapel.

what if: projects are an RIBA chartered practice and are on the GLA panel for Community Engagement and Local Regeneration.

Ulrike Steven
Architect (AK NRW, D), FRSA
Co-founder and director of what if: projects
Since 1997 Ulrike has developed ideas into deliverable projects and designed, managed and implementated buildings, urban design and artistic interventions. Working in collaboration with stakeholders and communities she has  helped to initiate and secure funding for  capital projects in London including the Livesey Exchange , Charterhouse Road Club and Vacant Lot.
In 2014 she established the Peckham weeklies, a community interest group that engages with urban planning and produces events and magazines on the subject.
Ulrike is part of the GLA’s Special Assistant Team supporting ‘project set up’.

Before setting up what if: projects in 2006 Ulrike worked for Ove Arup and RLE on the large transport infrastructure project St. Pancras International Station (2002–05).
She studied architecture at the Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany (1991–95) and the University of East London (1995–97).

Gareth Morris
Architect (ARB), FRSA
Co-founder and director of what if: projects
Gareth has considerable experience in the building industry and has been actively engaged in a broad range and scale of building proposals and completed building projects. He has lead the transformation of the Rainham Station forecourt, the award winnning  mini Holland villages project series and the Castle Place workshops.
Gareth helped to set up the Lamlash Street Garden in Elephant & Castle transforming a street into a new communal space.
Gareth is a member of the Harrow Design Review Panel.

Prior to establishing what if: projects  in 2006 he has worked for Sewell and Hawkins Architects principally on housing projects, both new-build and refurbishment including conversions and extension to listed buildings, medium housing and mixed-use developments and development strategies.
Gareth studied architecture at Portsmouth Polytechnic (1989–91) and at the University of East London (1995-1997).

From 2005 to 2011 Gareth and Ulrike taught a degree unit at the University of East London running a programme that mirrored what if: projects preoccupation with neglected, vacant space in the city and the possibilities these areas can offer to communities.

Liam Morrisey
RIBA part II, (PG)DipArch, MA
Liam has worked with what if: projects since 2008 and has been involved with the design and delivery of a broad range of projects including mini Holland, Hogarth Court, Greening Romford Ring Road and VACANT LOT. From 2012-2013 he ran the Albert meanwhile project in Kilburn that provided studio spaces, a canteen, sports hall, performance and exhibition spaces for over 150 artists and creative practitioners.
Liam completed his graduate diploma in Architecture and Masters in Spatial Planning at the London Metropolitan University.

Elsa Escobedo
Dip Architecture and Landscape Design (DSAA DETH), MA Urban Planning (M2)
Elsa has worked with what if : projects since 2015 and has been involved with the mini Holland and Lamlash Street community garden projects.
During her studies in Paris she carried out internships in Spain, Japan and UK and was involved in a variety of building projects.
Elsa graduated in architecture and landscape design at the Ecole Boulle (Paris) in 2014 and completed her Masters in Urban Planning in 2016 at Paris 1 – La Sorbonne. In 2014 Elsa received a scholarship from the City of Paris for a post diploma research project focused on public spaces in Bilbao.

website & graphic design: Kaisa Lassinaro