The Housing & Urbanism programme applies architecture to the challenges of contemporary urban strategies. The metropolitan regions of today show tremendous diversity and complexity, with significant global shifts in the patterns of urban growth and decline. The programme investigates how architectural intelligence helps us understand and respond to the shifting urban condition. Housing is explored both as a major critical aspect of urbanism and as a means to reflect upon changing ideas of living space and domesticity, identity and public space.
The programme consists of cross-disciplinary research and design application, combining design workshops, lectures and seminars, and culminating in a final MA thesis or MArch project, which is a detailed individual work.
The programme explores the interplay between graphic tools and writing in order to develop ideas and research about the urban condition while developing skills for intervening as urbanists through spatial design.
There are three current research themes of H&U work:
1. The role of urbanism in enhancing ‘innovation environments’ and ‘knowledge-based’ clusters through their urbanisation.
2. The idea of living space and housing, and issues of mix, density and urban intensification in which architecture is viewed dynamically in relation to a process of urbanisation.
3. The exploration of an appropriate urbanism that addresses urban irregularity and informality and engages with the interaction of spatial strategies and social policies.
This year the design workshops have been located in the Fitzrovia area of central London, in the Lea Valley of East London, and in Taiwan in collaboration with the Graduate Institute of Architecture of National Chiao Tung University. These workshops have addressed the processes of urban development related to knowledge-based economies and the potential for synergies between existing and new urban cultures. Complementing this work was a visit to Paris for additional study.
As with previous years, the work of the H&U programme forms the foundation for international collaborations and publications.