what if: projects taught degree unit F at East London University from 2005-2011 investing into small changes that can have a big impact on the urban context and local quality of life. Focus areas included Toxteth in Liverpool (2005, 2007), Sheffield (2006), Becton, Shoreditch, Stepney, Rainham&Erith in East London (2008-2011). For inspiration we traveled far and wide to Berlin, Venice, Marsaille, Instanbul and the Ruhr Valley.
Since October 2017 what if: projects are teaching degree studio 8 at the CASS, London Metropolitan University.
During the academic year 2017/18 studio 8 responded to the Mayors’ call to create a ‘City for All Londoners’ based on the principles of ‘good growth’ – ‘development that is socially, environmentally and economically inclusive.’
Focusing on the Old Kent Road ‘opportunity area’ where 20,000 new homes are planned, the studio engaged with the challenge of bringing together high density housing, light industrial use and communal spaces. The Old Kent Road is one of London’s oldest roads and for well over a century it has been an area alive with industry, making and supplying the things and the services that London needs. Looking behind usually closed doors we experienced the exciting mix of industries vital to the local economy and to the wider city. By talking to local organisations and through mapping existing uses the studio identified potential for shared spaces and explored programs that bring together the culturally diverse communities.
Inspired by our study trip to Berlin where we visited industrial courtyard developments, the studio created options for mixed-use – Old Kent Road specific courtyards that connect existing buildings and programs with new developments.
From 16th – 17th June 2018 students contributed to ‘Planning Action OKR’ – a talking, drawing, making and thinking workshop with residents, businesses, urban designers and anyone keen on a good future for the Old Kent Road. The event was an experiment in collaboration and the start of a discussion organised by what if: projects with Cass Cities, Vital OKR, Southwark Council and Treasure House.
Special thanks to: Atelier Le Balto, Bar Architekten, Exrotaprint, Gregor Harbusch, Heide&vanBeckerath, Markus Bader and UdK Berlin, Building Bloqs, Maria Westerstahl, Andrew Catcheside, Leon Graham (Structure Workshop), John Gunstone (Max Fordham), Alex Christie, Kaymet, Pempeople, Weber Industries
Photography: Alexander Christie and what if: projects